GDC Day 3: Seriously, they Have Games Here


If you go to swimming pool convention, do you go swimming?

My guess is that you just stand around with a bunch of balding men with deep tans and talk about filters. But I really don’t know.

At GDC, the whole idea has been to talk about games. This is the place that people who make games come to talk about making games. Playing games is sort of a tangent to the whole thing. When your work in making games, you can’t really justify playing them at a work event.

But when your job is to write about games, then playing games counts as work. Which is an oxymoron that no one wants to talk about. But it is also a situation that has lead GDC over the years to start to look like a mini-product expo for your journalists. PR people are as good as time share salesmen at figuring out how to talk you into paying attention to what they have to offer.

So I look at games.

Although iPhone users have created an entire new class of smug casual gamer player, I can’t help but envy their access to a new game called Qrank ( Sign up for free and every day the game downloads a new board of 20 questions. Answer them when you have time—waiting in the elevator, while zoning out on a conference call or pretending to be busy while waiting for the bus. Speed matters and throw in some power ups to make it interesting and you have an enjoyable trifle to pass the time. Invite your friends to compete and things get interesting. The game makes it easy to create leader boards of your Qrank-enabled iPhone buddies. Since it knows how long it took your girlfriend to answer the same question earlier that day, you can seed arguments about intellectual supremacy long before you come home from work.

Starting arguments with technology is cool. But if you want to get a real brawl going, you’re going to need more people. And since your iPhone knows where you are, it can let Qrank look for other trivia fans in the neighborhood. And by neighborhood I mean bar.

Bar quizzes have grown in understandable popularity over the years and people drinking need something to do to feel productive while throwing back rye and ignoring phone calls about getting in home to take Sissy to ballet. And the apparently endless availability of slacker guys with scraggly bears and horn rimmed glasses to host the quizzes have made them into a barroom mainstay.

Qrank, would like a piece of that pie, and be the game that people play in the bar.

Once they port the game to other platforms (Android, Blackberry and Facebook versions are in the works), I’ll be ready to drink to that.

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