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Tech-and-art junkies flock to audio-only video game maze
Tech-and-art junkies flock to audio-only video game maze
by WKSU's KABIR BHATIA


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Kabir Bhatia
 
This was the sinister-looking view the audience could see of player and progress in "Treasure of the Wampus"
Courtesy of K. Bhatia
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Handmade jewelry, light shows, junkyard chairs, church choirs and speechless parrots mingled under Cleveland’s Veterans' Memorial Bridge at Ingenuity Fest Sunday.  But off in a corner of this sensory smorgasbord, Jared Bendis was experimenting with sensory deprivation.  WKSU's Kabir Bhatia reports...
A maze at Cleveland's Ingenuity Fest

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A psychologist with an engineering background, Jared Bendis is Creative Director for New Media at Case Western Reserve University.  He participates every year in Ingenuity Fest  -- the annual fusion of technology and art exhibits.  He showed up over the weekend with the game Treasure of the Wampus in the Azimuth Cave.

Bendis spent six weeks constructing the cave, a padded room with 11 sides, making it "un-decagoganol."  It looks like a windowless version of the model patios seen at camper and RV shows.  Players spend four minutes inside the cave navigating with a small keypad.  Outside, on a large screen, a camera shows progress along with an infrared view of the navigator's face.  Sort of a complicated, audio-only version of Minesweeper.  I decided to hear for myself.

My final score was four gold pieces for a total of 643 points.  The record, held by an audio engineer, is seven pieces and 1-thousand and 90 points.  Bendis isn't sure where the Treasure of the Wampus is headed next, but he stresses he can take it anywhere.

"If Dave & Buster’s is listening.  You know it’s not for everybody; it’s a fun sort of thing.  I like to give people experiences and I’d love to see other type of ways we can use audio as an experience.  People say ‘I’m not good at video games’.  There’s no video here.  So, changing people’s perceptions, that’s my number one goal.”

Ingenuity Fest has celebrated Cleveland’s art and technology since 2005.  This year, thousands of curious Northeast Ohioans could check out jewelry made by Ugandans, electronic music made by decrepit devices and chairs made from withered machinery.
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