"Three… two… one…GO!"
It was a game of Candy Crush played by ant-sized humans, and I was one of them.
Imagine crawling across a 30-foot-long iPad trying to match candies as big as your head. Imagine if the game were so big, you'd need a crane to lift you up in the air just to see the possible matches you could make.
That's exactly what CNET video producer Logan and I experienced at a sneak preview of CBS' "Candy Crush" television show -- which now officially holds the Guinness World Record for Largest Touch Screen Display.
Just about everyone with a smartphone has tried Candy Crush, whether only for a few minutes or every time they have a second to spare. So when CBS invited me to the set of the Candy Crush game show with a promise of a larger-than-life translation of the popular app, how could I say no? Perks of the job! (Disclosure: CBS is CNET's parent company.)
The reveal didn't disappoint. I walked through a doorway onto a hyper-colorful, 360-degree set pulled straight from the game's design aesthetic: bursts of glitter carefully applied all around, and candy-striped window treatments framing audience viewing balconies above the set. I was instantly transported to a place of whimsy and delight. Slightly hallucinogenic, sure, but definitely memorable.
Then, I turned and saw them: two massive, gleaming tablets, each 30 feet high by 20 feet wide.
One was laid flat, like a massive dance floor, and the other stood straight up in the center of the set. The crew explained that during the mini-games, contestants would literally play the biggest game of Candy Crush ever made. At this point, I figured some manner of TV magic was at play here; surely, there was a person controlling contestant "swipes" in the control booth and making it look like these huge video walls were interactive? Nope.
They don't hand out Guinness World Records for nothing: These are the real deal in the way of interactivity, and when contestants put their hands on the gigantic candy icons and swipe them around, it's actually happening in real time without any behind-the-scenes gimmicks. Four different teams worked together to bring this tech to life, and it's absolutely awesome to see the screens in action.
Within each monitor, there are 32 cameras watching contestant movement. At 55 monitors per "tablet," that's a total of 3,520 tracking cameras keeping an eye on players while they compete, so that no candy swipe goes unnoticed. They're also designed to withstand being run on, kicked, and otherwise beaten up by contestants during show tapings. This isn't just a bunch of flat-screen TVs stuck together; it's a feat of engineering.
Logan and I spent two minutes scrambling around trying to run up our score, but it felt like an eternity, getting pulled off and put back onto the board. In the end, we had the second-highest score of the day compared with all the other outlets invited to the set. But more than anything, we had a lot of fun -- as someone who initially rolled my eyes a bit at the idea of a Candy Crush game show, I walked away completely sold on the execution, and I'm looking forward to all the ways contestants are going to use their bodies to compete for a pile of prize money.
I'll also never look at an insect on my phone quite the same way again, but hey, that's what happens when you get to be an ant-size human for an afternoon.
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