Designer Of Google's Upcoming ARG Discusses His 3 Core Principles

A very rich person who works for Google who has never made a game in his life is here to tell us how it is done. Seriously.

by on 2nd Jan, 2013

For those who haven't heard, Google is making its very first game, an ambitious ARG (alternative reality game) called Ingress. It combines their well established expertise in the realm of mobile technology and their as of yet untested game making acumen:

John Hanke is the man behind the project, and in an interview with Co.Design, he outlines what he believes are the future of gaming's three core principles.

The first one is "uproot the couch potato". Thanks to the advent of powerful handheld devices that can be connected to a vast network, people can finally get off the couch, which was one of the notions that drove the project in the first place:

"The whole group started with this idea of, 'How can we get people out into the world and seeing things that are there but they didn’t notice before."

Hanke also believe that most mobile games have been built around "creating a bubble around people" and cutting them off to the sighs, sounds, and people around them, which Hanke is aiming to change.

The second principle is to "think beyond the phone". Basically, Hanke doesn't want the phone to be the center of the game, but instead, be just a tool to help complete certain tasks or objectives.

Much work was put to have players look at their phones as tittle as possible:

"In a way, the most awkward thing about the game is the fact that you still have to look down at your screen and in some cases tap the screen in order to play." 

And the third principle, which is guaranteed to cause one's eyes to roll if they haven't done so already, is "innovative games require innovative ads". To tackle the issue of self-sustainability, Hanke has decided to pass on more traditional business models, like the freemium system, and instead do something a bit more unorthodox:

According to Co.Design:

"Instead, his team opted for a more experimental approach, tapping a half-dozen advertising partners that the designers have been working into the narrative. The brands are big and small, from the forward-looking auto rental service Zipcar to a San Francisco-based bag and apparel outfit called Chrome (no relation). They recently rolled out their first efforts to work a more subtle, meaningful style of advertising into the game, with objectives that directed players to Zipcar offices and Chrome stores to redeem in-game objects."

By the way, so who is this John Hanke fellow anyhow? According to his Wikipedia page, he basically created Google Earth, and is classified as a serial entrepreneur. Which is fine and dandy, but there is little actual game making experience to speak of.

It's one thing to come up with ideas for something, even ones that sound initially sound. But it's another thing to have a certain degree of experience and wisdom to help give those words some weight. Which Hanke completely lacks. But to also claim that one's ideas are the "future"? Sorry, but that's pure arrogance, plain and simple.

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