Students play Tower Tumble as it is being projected in real time onto the UT Tower
Courtesy of Thomas Meredith with the School of Design and Creative Technologies

By Reece Tincher, General News Reporter

About a hundred people gathered around the Tower the night of Nov. 3 to watch a video game that was projected onto the building.

The School of Design and Creative Technologies’ projection, titled “Ready Tower One,” has opened doors to the fusion of digital and physical media to create an immersive experience, said Michael Baker, Arts and Entertainment Technologies department chair. This marked the first time something had been projected onto the Tower in nearly a decade.

Baker said he worked with Andrew Augustin, Assistant Professor of Practice, Arts and Entertainment Technologies, and Marin Clark, an arts and entertainment technologies junior, to create the game.

Augustin said “Ready Tower One” emulates old-school video games. The Tower projection showed the students playing the game themselves.

“(We took inspiration) from a lot of different indie games,” Augustin said. “I was also looking at the old school original Mario Bros. Arcade (game).”

The University originally approached the team to project images, like the Make It Your Texas logo, onto the Tower for the Nov. 4 Wiz Khalifa concert on campus.

“We were approached by the upper administration about creating a Tower projection in conjunction with a concert,” Baker said. “When we finalized the details, we learned that we had an extra night before the event.”

With this extra day in mind, Baker requested permission to project the department’s own creative content onto the Tower — and thus the plan to project a video game was born.

“(We wanted) something that would be engaging for students, and maybe a little bit competitive,” Baker said.

“I do a lot of design outside of the classroom,” Augustin said. “I do this as a hobby … it makes it another job. Any time I can get a chance to be involved in designing something cool like this Tower project … (I’m) definitely excited and interested in being a part of the experience.”

To create the game, there were many constraints that they had to overcome with projecting something onto a building the size of the Tower, Baker said.

“It was definitely kind of a struggle getting all of the graphics and the layout to work perfectly with the Tower since we did want it to feel like the players were actually playing on the Tower, and that took a lot … (to make) it feel very cohesive,” Clark said.

To solve these problems, Augustin said they used a virtual 3D model of the Tower to make sure their projections would be correct on the actual Tower.

Baker said with “Ready Tower One” being a success, he is excited for the future of immersive media for students and the community.

“Immersive media experiences (are) really what we’re all about,” Baker said. “We’re one of the few units on campus who are actually building these experiences … and we intend to continue doing so.”