Thursday, August 04, 2005

An incredible waste of time

Just when I was supposed to be studying for finals, I found this:

Capture The Map

Maybe only the internet generation can love this kind of game. The front page is in German, but the instructions are in English. Just click on launch game [screen size] and you'll be all set.

The basic idea is that you have a map of the world subdivided into little squares, and a Google query will return a result (website) that originates from within one of the little squares. Every turn, you send a query to Google, and the top 9 hits send little pins flying out onto the map to stake out your territory. If the game can't figure out where one of the top 9 came from, no pin. If your queries all go to the same little square on the map, you get less points than if they went to different squares.

The interesting part is what happens when your opponent sends their query to Google. Basically, if they get a pin flying onto one of your squares, you lose the square and your pin. So this is a back-and-forth game of conquest. Even better, if you ever manage to stake out a 3 by 3 square, those squares become yours permanently and they can never be lost to your opponent. And you get extra points for blocks like this.

What you find yourself doing is thinking, "hmmm, [the computer] is getting awfully close to taking Amsterdam, I'd better send some query about the Dutch," or "gee, I could sure use some pins in Mexico, maybe I should send tequila or Baja or chorizo". It's actually fun to see where crazy stuff like "toilet" goes. "alberta" turned out to be a good one, put 8 pins in one 3 by 3 square.

The game ends when you use up your supply of pins. It is fun to beat the brains out of the computer, but it's more like you're competing with yourself to find interesting patterns in the world's information.

It is strangely addictive.

1 comment:

Anna B said...

Yes, strangely addictive. I don't know whether to be grateful or not to have found it....