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.