Four toy like controllers with different color
Installations Narrative/storytelling Play/Games

I Will Wait for You Downstairs

Does our imagination diminish as we age? "I Will Wait for You Downstairs" is an exploration game that aims to rekindle the delight of playing make-believe and an experiment to observe the imaginative possibilities that arise from combining tangible objects and virtual content.


Xiao Tan


Simone Salvo


Upon entering the installation room, players will be presented with four controllers, each with ambiguous and "weirdly familiar" toy-like shapes. The purpose of each controller will not be explained to the player, and they are encouraged to experiment with them to discover their function. The game is projected onto a screen in front of the players, and the movement of the controllers will cause various in-game variables, such as time, weather, and camera orientation, to change. Players will have the ability to control floating toys and experience time and weather-dependent events, such as a deer roaming through the snow or a UFO appearing on the horizon during a foggy day. The player's actions will cause trees to grow and the lens filter to shift to black and white. There are many more possibilities waiting for players to discover. Even doing nothing and observing the changes in time and weather can be an enjoyable experience. This slow-paced observatory game does not aim to force players to experience anything extraordinary. Instead, it provides a space and tools for players to explore at their own pace.  

Four toy like controllers with different color


We all used to be kids who love to play make-believe, like imagining a lunch box as a pirate ship or a hat as a UFO. Even the toys we played with were, in essence, lifeless objects, the passion and love we poured into them were lively and real. But it seems that as we grow up, our ability to make lifeless objects come alive diminishes. What happens to creativity as we grow older? One research concludes that preschoolers were more likely to give creative explanations than were the 6-year-olds or adults (Changes, 2017). The research goes further to outline the possible explanation of the result: the tension between two thinking - exploration and exploitation. When we adults face a new problem, we usually exploit the knowledge about the world we have acquired so far and try to quickly find a solution that is close to the solutions we already have. On the other hand, exploration may lead us to a more unusual idea or a new piece of knowledge. But it may also mean that we waste time considering crazy possibilities that will never work, something both preschoolers and teenagers has been known to do (Changes, 2017).

Technical Details

The hardware components of each controller include an ESP32 Feather, a Bno055 Orientation Sensor, a lithium battery, and a slide switch, with the exception of the camera, which has an extra potentiometer to control the zoom effect. ESP32 can connect to WiFi and send the orientation sensor's data to Max Msp through OSC. Max Msp will receive the raw data, categorize them, smooth out the rough part, and scale them to values that can be mapped to different actors in the Unreal Engine. For detailed documentation of the Unreal Blueprints used in this project, please check out my project website

People playing in front of a big screenInner hardware of four controllers