Yonge-Dundas Square: Public vs. Private Technical Considerations and Feasibility

Detailed Project Description

Posted Mon, Apr 19, 2004 at 12:03 PM

Table of Contents (of original proposal):
1) Synopsis
2) Hello (Virtual/Physical) World
3) Yonge-Dundas Square: Public vs. Private
4) Detailed Project Description
5) Technical Considerations and Feasibility
6) Conclusions and Next Steps

The main goal of Hello World is to replace the one-to-many broadcast model that the video billboard currently uses with a many-to-many networked model that the internet currently embodies. In an area like Yonge-Dundas Square, where our presence is hardly acknowledged as we pass by each other, allowing the public to have an impact on what is being shown on the screen would create an interactive public space with an increased connection to its media-infused surroundings.

So imagine this: You're a technological gearhead with one of those new Wi-Fi-enabled PDAs. You're always on the look out for free wireless hotspots and you hear through a popular website dedicated to all things wireless in Toronto that there's going to be a special event for mobile users at Yonge-Dundas Square this week.

Thereís a link to a website that you click on which lets you create a user account and play a game thatís akin to the schoolyard game of capture the flag except in a computer maze. From your office desktop computer, you join a team of other users logged in at the same time as you are and play a couple of rounds since a new game starts every hour.

The game interface has two panels. In one of them, you see a view of your avatar (which is yellow) and its surroundings. In the other panel, you see a map of where youíve been and the stats of your team including how many people are playing, who still needs to collect their keys, and where they are from. On your team, you have quite a few people from Canada, a couple from the US, and even someone from the UK!

Using your mouse or keyboard, you navigate through a maze in search of a key the same colour as your avatar. When you find it, you need to bring it back to your teamís home base. Be careful, as youíll need to avoid members from the opposite team so you donít get caught and placed into their jail. And as with the real game, if you find the jail, you can release anyone who might be in it.

The game is built for collaborating so if you run into someone from your own team, you can open up a chat with them in order to trade strategy tips. Although you donít want to get into a lengthy discussion Ė thereís a time limit for your team to collect all of the keys and win the game!

Oh hey, speaking of time: itís 5pm now and itís time to leave work. You put your PDA into your pocket and, since Yonge-Dundas Square is on the way home, you head down there to find a bunch of people already milling about. Some have PDAs and others have brought out their entire laptop but all of them are playing the capture the flag game online.

Apparently, if you log into the game from within range of a special wireless hotspot, you are placed into a team with your fellow Yonge-Dundas Square inhabitants. A large video billboard nearby is showing a map of this teamís collective progress.

Thereís much noise coming from this group since thereís no online chat for the local team. Rather everyone is trading their tips by shouting, ďHey agent00, I saw your key just now. Itís back at quadrant E-6!Ē Some will even peer into each otherís screens in order to get orientated and look up at the video billboard that act as a guide.

While this is only one scenario of a game for Hello World and many details must still be worked out, it captures most of the key points I wish to create in a game:
a) itís accessible to anyone with internet access
b) itís built for more than two players
c) the game play changes every time based on whoís logged in ensuring return users
d) it has the ability to pit local users within Yonge-Dundas Square against non-local users including those logged in globally
e) local users have an advantage of being in close physical proximity to each other
f) local users will hopefully realize their advantage, verbally engage with each other, and feel a sense of team spirit that they can carry with them outside of game play

Yonge-Dundas Square: Public vs. Private Technical Considerations and Feasibility