Putting the 'face' in Facebook games: Arkadium and Image Metrics

Image Metrics Emily
Image Metrics Emily

Arkadium is likely best known on Facebook for games like Mahjongg Dimensions and Cooking Mama, but that's about to change. Thanks to a brand new partnership with Image Metrics, an animation studio best known for the facial capture technology it provides to traditional game developers, your own face could be the star of Arkadium's next Facebook game.

During an interview with Gamasutra, the new found duo revealed Portable You, a new toolset for Facebook game developers--starting with New York City-based Arkadium--to allow players to include their own face as the centerpiece of their avatars. Using a simple webcam, Portable You, embedded in any given Facebook, could create a 3D rendering of your head and face.

By the way, that picture to the right is a 3D reproduction of an actress's face done by Image Metrics--it's not real. But we doubt Portable You will be as powerful. This is especially considering the technology was bought through an acquisition of Big Stage earlier this year.

"Mostly we've been the user of our own technologies," Image Metrics CEO Robert Gehorsam said to Gamasutra. "But we've also really come to realize and believe there's a major shift going on in how people want to represent themselves, express themselves and communicate online, starting with creating your own character in a game."

"We work directly from video; we don't require any kind of markers, or the special makeup," Gehorsam told Gamasutra. "We can go directly from a video screen or from a single image to 3D animation... through a whole bunch of equations that recognize the face in a 2D context. It's not a photo; it's really 3D."

Sure, this has the potential to introduce a never-before-seen level of immersion to Facebook games. The idea of representing or expressing yourself more accurately than ever has plenty of charm. But the more pressing question I have for Image Metrics is: How well does Portable You render beards?

What do you think this type of technology means for Facebook games in the future? Would you ever place a 3D version of yourself into your favorite Facebook games? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.

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