As the technology behind video games continues to bring the most realistic graphics to your living room, a new kind of gaming has emerged in recent years that want to bring gaming back to nature.
Oddly enough, it's only been just recently has technology advanced to a level to allow gamers to blur the lines between reality and the virtual worlds through cameras, GPS tracking, and the rise of the mobile device. With this being Earth Week, maybe it’s about time that we reconnected with the world beyond our windows by integrating it into our passion for gaming.
The following games bring players out into the real world by using bits and pieces of what’s around you to incorporate them into the game. Sometimes the best way to start caring about the environment is by interacting with it.
Zombies, Run! – A Sweaty Apocalypse
Greetings, Runner 5. Welcome to a world where humans fight for survival and zombies lie around every corner. You are one of the few human runners left to the task of collecting packages in the real world. Lace up your sneakers and get ready to sprint to freedom. You never know when the zombies may be nipping at your heels.
Part exercise program and part ARG (alternative reality game), Zombies, Run! utilizes the GPS built into your mobile device to detect where you need to travel and how fast you’re getting there. Your handler gives you assignments each time to find packages and return home. Yes, it’s a giant fetch quest, but you’ll often get reports of zombie attacks in your area while running which is your general cue to pick up the pace.
Behind all of this running, there’s a story lurking in the shadows. With each mission, you find yourself a step closer to the truth behind the invasion. Items you collect during your runs can be used to build up your virtual world. Get in better shape. Get a little more time outside. Stop a zombie outbreak. It’s a win-win situation for those looking to spend a little more time in reality.
Socks Inc – Recycling For Fun and Profit
Business is tough, even if you’re a sock puppet. Socks Inc let’s you explore the world of slightly fuzzy business practices through an avatar of your making. Are you a good guy? Are you devious and looking to make it up the corporate ladder? There’s no reason to feel embarrassed about acting out. Everyone’s a sock puppet here. Create sets, clothing, and use whatever you have around the house to tell your story. Think of it as a re-cycling program where you get to win badges, rewards, and perhaps get to live out your wildest corporate fantasies.
Every week, you’ll get a new mission or piece of the story to work on. Record and send back how your cotton-lined employee takes care of the task at hand. Each department delivers their own type of missions. For the waste management department, you might need to send in pictures of things no one wants anymore. The R&D department – you know, rhymes and drums – you might need to help them out with a rap. Creative thinking, interacting with others, using materials at hand to solve a problem; it may be the work of an imaginary company that teaches us how to save the world.
Humans Vs. Zombies – Open Source Survival
It’s exactly how it sounds. One team of humans must defend themselves from an ever growing and hungry team of zombies. This modified game of tag comes with plenty of rules to keep things fun as well as safe as you run around campuses, parks, or any other large area of the city. Human wear bandanas around their arms, protecting themselves with stunning balled up socks or bright yellow nerf guns. Zombies wear their bandanas around their heads and must eat every so often or die off. While the game seems simple, there’s actually a lot of tech behind Humans Versus Zombies.
Besides what you would naturally bring to the battlefield, every player also carries a note card with an assigned number. These identification markers feed into a central game engine which keeps track of who’s gone the way of the zombie or if a zombie has taken too long to eat. Think of it as a referee keeping tabs on everyone. Simple and fun to play, HvZ gives you just a taste of the zombie apocalypse without any of the mess of a real one. Better yet, you get to know the world around you just a little better when you’re checking every corner for a zombie attack.
Meatspace Invasion – Save Your Neighborhood
If your taste for the undead has died out, maybe you won’t mind trying to save the world from aliens. Maybe not the whole world, but let’s work on one neighborhood at a time. Meatspace Invasion pits you against the incoming alien armada looking to take out human civilization one street at a time. Using open source mapping, the game finds out where you are and populates the world with nasties and upgrades for you to find. Better put on your trainers. This is no walk in the park.
Using blasters and other weapons you happen to find in the game, you and your friends can go out and take on the alien horde. To find more ammo or health, you’ll need to hit certain areas. Since they’re still in beta, that means you’ll often find just as many bugs as enemies, but they’re constantly updating the software with improvements, new enemy types, and even new weapons like one that leaves a trail of blue toxic goo where ever you travel.
Even if you don’t find a way to stop the invasion, at least you’ll be able to find new places in your neighborhood.