Giant Bomb recently launched a quest system on their site. It rewards participants with experience points, badges and a sense of “yay” for exploring the site, looking at different pages and taking part in various activities. Some of the quests are as simple as setting up your profile. Others are more complex “puzzly” ones that require one to solve some cryptic clues about games and game culture. It’s a lot of fun, and it actually convinced me to sign up to the site and make greater use of it.
This echoes the thoughts of social game designers at GDC a while back, including Brian Reynolds from Zynga. The idea of getting Achievements for things you do in “reality”. It sounded stupid, but given the amount of fun I, and numerous others, have had with Giant Bomb’s metagame, it may not be so dumb after all.
It’s not the first time it’s been tried, either. A very long time ago I posted about a site called PMOG, or the Passively Multiplayer Online Game. This game, actually a Firefox addon that sits atop your normal browser interface and re-christened The Nethernet a while back, allows players to earn experience points, achievements and items for exploring the web. More than that, though, other players can leave stuff on web pages for others to discover. These could be malicious (bombs, which make your browser shake about a bit and cause you to lose some points) or helpful (crates with money in them). They could also be mysterious portals, which lead to random places on the web, the destinations of which are only known to the portal’s creator. It was an interesting concept let down only by the fact that it only worked in Firefox. Since Chrome came to Mac, I haven’t touched Firefox since, the Mac version not being the greatest piece of coding there ever was.
Then there’s Shuffletime, now sadly defunct – although the developers claim to be working on the “Next Big Thing”. Shuffletime was a great idea – it was a collectible card game where the cards were websites. And you only got to collect the card if you correctly answered a question about the site it was showing you against a strict time limit. It was a fantastically addictive game, and a fine way to get people looking around the web at things they wouldn’t normally. I’m sorry to see it go, but I’m sure something interesting will come out of it.
Like them or loathe them, Achievements and Trophies are here to say. And it’s entirely possible that their influence will spread out of the world of core gaming and into the collective awareness of the web at large. Let’s face it, it’s always nice to get some encouragement isn’t it?
Now, how many Gamerscore is hitting 100 One A Day posts worth?