When I read about this clever porting of “Asteroids” into an interactive game on a New York Times Magazine article on “Angry Birds, Farmville and Other Hyperactive ‘Stupid games’” I thought that, as Nick Bilton tweeted, traveling back on a “video game time machine” to shoot up the article was fun.
I think the game is a brilliant example of an interactive digital medium telling and embodying a story in way no print article can ever convey.
Steve Myers wrote up the backstory of the man who made it over on Poynter:
The game was created by Jon Huang, a multimedia producer for the Times. He’s also a beekeeper, “not for The New York Times,” he says on his Twitter page. Why someone would play with bees when he could shoot up nytimes.com, I’ll never know. Huang based the game on the game Kick Ass, created by a company called Rootof Creations. The company says in promoting the game, “Who hasn’t ever wanted to destroy someone’s Facebook page or a competitor’s website. Now you can, and in a glorious fashion.” Looks like a new version is coming out soon.
I couldn’t help wonder, after playing around with it, whether the Times might have stumbled upon an inadvertent potential source of data. By measuring which elements of the page were destroyed the most initially, might NYT editors measure which elements of NYTimes.com readers most want to remove? Or which specific stories they dislike?
User interface and user experience website optimization are almost certainly not what the Old Grey Lady is after here, of course.
That said, the idea of using games to engage users (or citizens?) to provide on feedback website’s interface remains, at least to me, an intriguing one.