3.4.11

Retro arcade games? Every business needs one.

BY JEFF ROBERTSON

What do you do when you want lots of 30-year-old IT folks to answer survey questions at a trade show? Level 3 asked this of us recently and, some of us being 30-year-old IT folks, we had just the solution: turn the survey into a classic arcade game.

We really wanted to do something different than the same-old, same-old -- pens, mugs and other traditional swag wasn't going to cut it.  (I considered suggesting that they just give away a new car at the booth, but for some reason our clients never go for that one.)  So we worked with the client on what might be entertaining for an IT person born in the 70s.  The late 70s and early 80s brought on the video game revolution, both at home and in the arcades.  Bring back a game from someone's childhood and let them play it on a large touchscreen computer, make sure the game's messaging ties in with the client (without distracting from the fun), and you've got a good shot at being the most popular booth in the room.  But what game?  If you're thinking Asteroids, Pong, Mario or Pac-Man, kudos... and bonus points if you threw in Dig Dug.

I tried to convince Mark that it would take six weeks of intensive study on old video games to figure out what we should do.  Mark thought it was important enough that he should do it himself.  Bryan and Duy also volunteered for the job.

After a while of getting absolutely nothing done and having a lot of fun in the process, we came up with an Asteroids-based concept.  The targets tie in with the Level 3 message -- you blast network bottlenecks, hackers, viruses, etc -- and you answer survey questions for bonus points.  This format lends itself quite well to the touch interface, and game play on the touchscreen computer was like using a three-foot-wide iPad (which I'm assuming will be coming out next year).

And may I say, we are fortunate enough to have one of the best Flash developers I've ever met on our team.  Mr. Duy Do (if you haven't seen him, you should) programmed the entire game from scratch in about a week because he said the existing game templates weren't good enough to use.

At last update yesterday, the client had a crowd around their booth vying for the high score.  Please ask us to do another one of these -- I want to do more research.

The game:
gameplay1

High scores:
scores1

A survey question:
questions1

Jeff Robertson
written by JEFF ROBERTSON

Jeff Robertson is an entrepreneur and an online development expert with experience stretching back to dial-up. He is a partner and VP of Technology & Operations at Carbon8. On the development side, he helps bridge the gap between the technical and marketing worlds, and oversees technical infrastructure. On the operations side, he helps optimize team processes, manages finances and buys emergency coffee if the supply runs low.

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