I guess it was only a matter of time before someone equipped Google Street View navigators with a gun. Pool Worldwide, a Dutch advertising company, did just that. The M4A1 pointed menacingly at blurry-faced people, cars and buildings. It even made shooting sound effects so you could take out unsuspecting pedestrians on your lunch break.
The website was more of a self-promotion gimmick than an attempt at making a poor man’s Call of Duty. But Google moved in quickly and disarmed the company, citing a terms of service violation and blocking the company’s access to Google Maps. Pool Worldwide, however, might just be thinking mission accomplished. The game was only up from Friday through late Monday night but peak traffic on the site saw about 3,000 visitors per minute. That’s some viral advertising.
I didn’t get to play the game myself, but I suspect it’d be something like racing parked cars. Not that awesome after about 10 minutes when the novelty wears off. But the company’s plan might be taken as a sign of things to come, namely, computer gaming that incorporates the vast maps of Google Maps and Google Earth. Google Earth has a flight simulator feature that they launched a few years back. You can choose between an F-16 jet or a prop plane, and take off and land at runways all over the world. I had fun weaving between the 3D-enabled buildings of downtown Baltimore. GE Flight Simulator is a website that basically expands Google Earth’s tool with a fleet of different aircraft, over 30,000 runways, and a chat feature so you can tell someone: “Meet me at LAX!”
Despite Google’s disapproval of machine guns, it seems to me inevitable that gaming will incorporate Google’s vast database of location imagery. And it doesn’t have to be a first person shooter. What about using it in a Second Life-type game? A virtual world based on the real world. Then you could start using Linden dollars at your neighborhood coffee shop too.