Where 2.0: Pixie Hunt

Pixie Hunt is a location-based, mobile game that is coming out of Microsoft and we are proud to have it debut at and kick-off our Where 2.0 Conference this year. We are going to be supporting 10 teams in this hunt. Each team is armed with a phone (from Cingular), a GPS puck, and a Flickr account. In the game, teams compete with each other to take pictures of certain tasks (“take a photo of your team with a stranger in a scarf”, “take a picture of a corgie”, etc). As a team completes a task and uploads their proof (a photo) to Flickr, the other teams are all shown your work and they see your score incremented. Jordan Schwartz explains the game in more detail:

You load the application on your Windows Mobile 5.0 smartphone or PocketPC cameraphone, sign up for an account on Flickr and a group text messaging service, then wait for instructions. Your phone will download a set of tasks like the examples above and you’re off. Each time you take a photo against a task, it’s automatically uploaded to Flickr and tagged. Then all the other team’s phones download it and show it in the game.

The effect is, you get to see all the photos the other teams are taking as they take them, plus you can “smack talk” with the other teams with the integrated group SMS service. The application takes care of basic housekeeping, like keeping score for you and organizing the pictures based on which task they were taken against.

Because this is a mobile application, we realized we could also integrate location awareness into the game: all photos are geotagged with the latitude and longitude of where they were taken. That enabled us to add the ability to see the other teams on a Virtual Earth map and to support “location riddle” tasks (i.e., you won’t get points for certain tasks unless you figure out the right place to take the photo).
(Read more of Jordan’s post)

I have not played Pixie Hunt, but I’m pretty excited to get the chance. The only mobile game that I have played is The Go Game. Most people (even some Where attendees ;-) haven’t played location based games yet. As location data becomes available from the carriers these games will become commonplace, but for now we have to be content to enjoy them when they are available. I’m also excited to see Microsoft willing to take advantage of third-party webservices. Pixie Hunt is not an official product, but to see this willingness in an experiment is a good move and hopefully a sign of things to come.

The game will take place Monday night after the Google Developer Day. We’ll begin in the Fairmont Hotel and play for a couple of hours. We plan to have 10 teams of 6 playing. Jordan is going to report on the success of the game in a talk on Wednesday. If you want to play, sign-up on the Where Wiki.