At last, you too can experience the thrill of a 153-hour transatlantic voyage—without needing 40,000 tonnes of cargo to haul or a gun with which to protect yourself from pirates. All you have to do is find the latest and greatest in arcade gaming. OCEAN·SHIP from Cybridity Studios combines the look, feel and sounds of the high seas to give you a complete sensory experience unlike any arcade game you’ve ever played.

How can OCEAN·SHIP be any different from the flight, racing or off-roading simulators you’ve taken for a spin in the past?

Well, that’s how. Add to that a couple of bucket seats that sway to the ebb of the waves you break, and you’ve got one state-of-the-art gaming console—one in which you’re going to feel the need for a yellow raincoat and a Fisherman’s Friend.

The full arcade machine with seats looks a little something like this machine from SEGA, with the addition of the periscope for Player 2. Pictures were unavailable at press time, so we’re working with what we got.

But despite OCEAN·SHIP’s myriad of nifty features that enhance the feeling of a real ship, it is the real-time factor of this game that will prove to be the most realistic and challenging aspect of the game. While the game is designed to be played in pairs, it will likely be best handled in groups of 4-8, who play the game in shifts (just as ship captains must handle their transatlantic voyages). The mental strain will be tough for players to overcome, especially those players who have grown used to games like Tetris, PacMan and Street Fighter, where games  don’t often last beyond a few minutes.

OCEAN·SHIP is inspired by the unreleased Desert Bus video game, designed by SEGA in 1995.

The story is that OCEAN·SHIP began as an idea spurned by a class project in the creators’ graduate English class. They were to design a game based on the readings and class material for that week, which included Norbert Weiner’s “Men, Machines, and the World About.” In the article, Weiner discusses what was essentially early power-steering on large ships, and “negative feedback” engineers implemented within those mechanisms in order to ensure ship captains maintained control of their ships. OCEAN·SHIP lacks such a mechanism, and the feedback Player 1 experiences through the steering wheel is one of physical force, a simulation of the water working back against the rudder, and eventually through the wheel.

The “virtual reality” experienced through this feedback, and through the visual of looking through water, and through the feeling of air blowing across one’s face helps transport the player(s) into the game, but also out onto the ocean—at least what one remembers (or imagines, if they have never been) of the ocean. By combining this computer-mediated communication between one’s physical sensory system and their own memory or imagination, and the face-to-face communication between Player 1 and Player 2, OCEAN·SHIP is a somewhat twisted example of what Michael Liskin terms “cybridity.” While he states that cybridity is the “synchronous interaction between two or more people that incorporates both mediated and face-to-face modes of communication within a given frame of time and/or space,” being able to communicate yourself through technology to another geographical location or even another mental state is equally as impressive as being able to communicate with someone else through technology.

Regardless of what thinks of the science and philosophy behind OCEAN·SHIP, critics remain skeptical of the game as a popular sell to consumers. The lengthy playing time and slow pace will certainly turn many away. But for those who want to get a taste of what it’s like to command a serious vessel on the high seas, OCEAN·SHIP has a lot to offer.

– Dyldebeest

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