Back in the early nineties when we were all listening to Cassandra Complex and pouring over tattered copies of Neuromancer, I cajoled my parents into (a) taking me to Dave and Busters and (b) forking over many dollars to let me play Dactyl Nightmare. Dactyl Nightmare was one of the first immersive 3D virtual-reality games, and was both clunky and fairly crap-tacular if memory serves. I remember wearing a musty helmet and spinning around helplessly trying to navigate through a low polygon 3d environment without much luck. Firing weapons was hopeless. Nevertheless, games like Dactyl nightmare are important touchstones (a) in the cultural milieu that spawned Lawnmower Man and (b) as early, not-so-well-realized, examples of the CS research pouring over into popular gaming.
Apple Knowledge Navigator
Not a real product, but certainly one of the all-time greats in speculative interaction design. The knowledge navigator speaks for itself as both a rather humourous anachronism and as a vision of a future that’s (kinda-sorta) come to pass. While not interactive art, it’s certainly a reminder that thinking about what’s not yet possible can be a fruitful use of time and energy.
The Long March
This videogame piece by Feng Mengbo is basically a remix of videogame classics cast as the history of the People’s Republic of China. It’s installed as two huge projection screens facing one another which participants/visitors can walk through. The interaction takes the form of a standard (snes i think) controller, but by manipluating scale and content creates something much more compelling than any standard game of Street Fighter II.