NinJanitor is a multiplayer augmented reality game which combines mundane housework with martial arts. In this game, the player takes the role of a “ninja janitor,” who must clean the footprints of higher-ranking ninjas with cleaning rags to insure their stealthiness. The player gains control of a cleaning rag by striking it with a kunai, tossed from their Android phone. Once the kunai attaches itself to the rag, the player selects a destination for the cleaning rag, and summons a tiny ninja to drag it to this location. As the rag slides across the ground, it brushes up all the footprints in its path. More footprints spawn throughout the game. The player who cleaned the most footprints when the timer is up wins.

This game was developed by Jack Tang (Georgia Tech), Kevin Jones (Georgia Tech), Charmant Tan (Georgia Tech) and Leo Ceballos (SCAD). During this semester of work in the AR Game Studio, we constructed a large, 71″ by 95″ AR target which sits on the floor. We wanted to experiment with a large augmented reality target to see how it might facilitate social interaction in public spaces such as bus stops, subway stations, and airports.  Early on, we experimented with several different interactions using this target. Going into NinJanitor, our goal was to develop one of these interaction prototypes, involving a “click and drag” mechanic, into a fully playable multiplayer experience.

We went through several different revisions of NinJanitor’s mechanics before settling on its final state. At first, we envisioned a fast-paced, chaotic game in which players would try to sweep up a random arrangement of footprints as fast as possible. However, after testing this, we discovered that a slower pace encouraged players to stay aware of the entire AR target and line up their shots carefully. The success of the gameplay depends on a balance between planning ahead and thinking fast.