Fastr: Open Content Meets Casual Games

Thanks to Wonderland, I’ve discovered a cool little game called Fastr which is based on the Flickr image-sharing service. Fastr is a multiplayer game. Every 40 seconds or so, it appears to pick a random (simple) word and then begins downloading images from Flickr that have been tagged with that word. It displays another image every few seconds. Your goal is to guess the tag word as quickly as possible (based on the images). A quicker guess yields more points. I love it!

This game has opened my eyes to a whole new world of potential design uses for open content. The possibilities are endless. For example, how about an FPS or RPG in which the player has the power to look into other people’s minds via ESP and see their thoughts (which would be expressed as images)? When the player uses his power on important characters (especially at key plot moments), he would of course see pre-defined content. But, when using his power to gaze into the minds of normal people on the street, the images he sees could be pulled directly from Flickr. Image selection could be based on a sensible set of random keywords. Or perhaps images could be pulled from a randomly-selected Flickr user’s library (preferably sharing a tag-word, regardless of the word itself), so that a truly meaningful “thought-sequence” would be reconstructed for the player. All of a sudden, “filler” NPCs in a game acquire unique, interesting characteristics. They cease to be filler, and instead truly enrich the player’s experience. 🙂

2 responses to “Fastr: Open Content Meets Casual Games

  1. I really enjoy Fastr. Part of its appeal is how quick it is to pick it up and play a few rounds. The sidebar where you get to watch the real-time performance of your competitors is absolutely key to the play, because without it there’s no immediate motivation to guess quickly.

    I think that this is a bigger idea than just “use publicly-available content to make a game richer”. It uses the content as a crucial part of gameplay itself! An equivalent game would have you guessing the title of a Wikipedia article, based on a few sentences’ excerpt.

  2. Yes, that would be *one* of the possibilities. 🙂

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