Who Put the Google Earth in my Game?

I just saw the trailer for Sony’s new game The Last Guy. In it you run around a city trying to lead people to safety with a top down view reminiscent of Google Earth or Yahoo! Maps or Live Maps. People follow you around the city creating an ever longer line, while you try to avoid monsters. As your line gets longer you get more points and can do more things like surround buildings to free all the trapped people.


I was struck by how ingrained in our society this (relatively) new way of looking at our world has become. Google Earth is the most useful virtual world that I interact with on a regular basis and I doubt that I am the only one who feels that way. It is on its way to becoming its own gaming platform (if its doesn’t qualify already). Google added a flight simulator mode and GoogleEarthHacks hosts Gemmo, an MMO for the geobrowser. The still-in-Beta Google Earth browser API included a milk truck game at launch (Radar post). WIthin a week of that launch someone had created their own flight simulator for the plugin (as predicted by Google’s Ed Parsons).

These are good experiments, but I think that Google Earth’s real gaming future will come via a realtime location-tracking game. A game where people will both review their steps and plot their next move in the geobrowser. The geobrowsers are ready for this game, but unfortunately the realtime trackers are lagging. Hopefully our phones, which are the most likely device to keep the cloud updated with our locations, will soon be up for the task (it seems like Nokia will be soon with the LifeviNe app; the iPhone won’t be until it adds location-tracking as a background process).

BTW, if you want to get a feel for The Last Guy game play check out their promotional site. It lets you run around any website as though it were the game.

(LifeviNe via PSFK via @sarawinge)

(The Last Guy trailer via @elanlee)

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  • If I remember correctly, the original Grand Theft Auto was also top-view like this.

  • Really? I think one of the first games my younger brother played on the PC was the original Sim City. And countless strategy games since (the original warcraft, command and conquer, etc.) have followed the formula since. I don’t think this top down view within games is anything particularly new or breathtaking, just that google earth provides a cheaper option than having to pay a designer to create a decent map.

  • Brady Forrest

    Maps have always had a top-down view. The difference is the use of realistic imagery and that this view is the only view. It’s not just a part of the game; it is the game.

  • Bruce A Johnson

    Things must really be bad on the Earth in the game. At the end of the trailer it is spinning the wrong way.

  • can you see what the collective consciousness implications of this are? we now have risen above the local space and time limitations, and can look down on the world from a higher point of view. no borders show up in this view, global awareness will be the result.

  • Hey,

    ohh ist so nice, i will play it ;-)

    Greetings Olli

  • A Virtual World based on Google Earth ?
    With the players’ avatars running on the landscape. Millions of them. I love this idea.
    Hosting thousands or millions of avatars it is no so easy.
    I propose a solution, here http://joaquinkeller.blogspot.com/2008/08/virtual-world-based-on-google-earth.html

    And a 2D version of this virtual world can be tried here:


  • I keep waiting for someone to do a military sim using Google Earth or the like as the basis of the maps of the game, laying resources and forces on top of it.

  • George Humphreys

    Just watched Burn After Reading, and the opening shot (zooming in from space) reminded me of your post.