Gridlockd, Cities and Slow Games

Gridlockd by Mohit SantRam of NYU ITP sounds fascinating:

…an urban game where participants within one of four teams compete to capture grid positions in a half hour. the team with the most points wins! This project is meant to display how semacodes, cameraphones, ad-hoc groups, and social dynamics are effected under time pressure.

It’s going to be one of these fun ‘big games’ which create lots of spectacle, but looking at the core gameplay: capture grid positions… I wonder if it wouldn’t be more satisfying as a slower, more strategic game played over a much much longer timeframe.

As our own Greg Costikyan has said – latency in the mobile network makes it very hard to create real-time games. In Gridlockd – they are using walkie-talkie functionality to enable this – the phone is not the communications channel – it is a mobile networked computer for recognising physical/location data…

So why not play to the strengths of asynchronous communications instead, and harness an entirely different, more casual, less spectacular form of play.

I’m imagining a kind of urban location-based reversi that two people could play over a long time span – kind of like a play-by-mail game, but play-by-city…

This game would still using semacodes/QR-codes/NFC for the game grid positions. Janne Jalkanen has demonstrated how easy it is to create NFC/web services for presence – perhaps it would be possible to very quickly create such a game. Perhaps there could be some grid positions that were in coffee-shops where the players could meet and discuss the moves.

Of course, there are only some urban locations where the image of the city would match with the image of the game board. Manhattan and other big grid-structured US cities seem more ideal for urban games than European cities?

Matt Locke, a few years ago, wrote about slow-networks in cities a few years ago, using ‘public caches’ – bluetooth or IR connected public digital stores – what are the opportunities for slow-networks city-gaming?

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