Google Gamifies Maps. Where Will the Cube Take You?
Hot on the heels of its secret, mindless, office productivity-killing StarCraft-based Search destroying game, Google has released a play-to-learn Maps-based tool.
Millions took some time on Friday to search for "Zerg rush" in the simple Google Search form, madly clicking away to battle the insect-like swarms of o's destroying their search results. The search "Easter Egg" is one of many hidden secretive, hidden joys of the Google Search system, found only through word of mouth.
Saturday, Google released yet again a Gamification of one of their online tools - this time based on their popular and widely used Google Maps system. This time, however, the purpose of the game is to help users of Maps to learn of the variety of powerful (but lesser-known) features inherent in the tool - whether driving, biking or walking.
Called Cube, the game features a six-sided rotating 3D-like cube, each side revealing a pop-up like layout of a famous city destination from across the world. A blue, free-rolling ball signifies where you are now, on the smoothly tilting surface. Little pins, signs or flags indicate where you gotta get, as you guide the ball around buildings and down city streets and highways.
Cube's levels get progressively more complicated, as you learn to transport yourself across the map using a subway system (yes, Maps shows you the best subway route to get where) or figure out which rest area to dash through to get to Bubba Gump's on the third floor of the labyrinthian Mall of America.
Deceptively simple, Cube's gamification of a real-life tool is a guide to where many of us will learn rich web interfaces in the future. How better to draw millions to learn more about a day-to-day tool than to turn it into an inherently shareable game? I had a fun time going through each level - particularly the one where the map shifts like a city-block Rubik's Cube as you try to make you way to your target locations.
Can we have a zombies version now, Google? Please?