Jul 30

Brady Forrest

Brady Forrest

Sharkrunners: Realtime Data Used for a Game

shark map

The Discovery Channel is using Sharkrunners, an online game, to teach people what it's like to be a marine biologist who is tracking sharks. The game is easy to play, but original.

Players are given a virtual boat and virtual crew. They use it to track real-life sharks that have been tagged with a GPS recievers. When a boat encounters a shark the player is alerted via email and/or SMS. The player has three hours to select how to try to collect data about the shark and its behavior. The goal is to gather as much data about sharks as possible.

In Sharkrunners my boat, the Roo, has just left the port of San Luis Obispo. We had our first encounter 15 minutes after leaving port. Now that I have some funding I'll probably get another crew member (which increases the likelihood of my getting data and decreases the likelihood of my crew dying) or upgrade my boat (a better craft allows me to stay out to sea longer). My single shark encounter netted me $2,200. GIven that the game launched a week and players already have over $700,000, I think the players really like it.

The game was developed by area/code, a NYC-based company. They have also developed games for the Sopranos. Dennis Crowley, formerly of Dodgeball, was at Where 2.0 talking about Plundr, a wifi pirate game. He had a demo version of Plundr running on the Nintendo DS Lite -- a great use of Skyhook's geolocation APIs and Nintendo DS homebrew.

Taking realtime data and crafting it into a game is still new. As sensor networks increase, I think that we can expect more games like this to appear. It's good for teaching us about our world and new technology, but it can be scary. How long till a game like Sharkrunners is turned into a game fitting the title RedLightRunners?

Additional Screenshots

shark encounter options

Your options upon encountering a shark. Most of the options aren't available to me as I only have two crew members.

shark hunting results

Success! I am rewarded with funding, some shark facts, and a shark video.

Thanks for the tip Jane!

tags: emerging tech, geo  | comments: 6   | Sphere It

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Comments: 6

  Peter Brantley [07.30.07 10:24 AM]

This is cool work. Btw the Federation of American Scientists has taken a lead in the development of richly immersive and engaging games and virtual environments to foster education at many levels (K-12, and HE). For example, they held a Summit on Educational Games in 2006.

Additional information on their work can be found on their web site's Learning Federation section; they've worked with many game developers in the past, and are now beginning to explore the possibilities in Second Life.

I hope to attend a FAS/Hewlett Foundation/Kauffman Foundation meeting later this year that will continue to explore richly interactive educational environments. area/code's work in the integration of real time sensing data is right up this alley.

  Perry [08.02.07 06:23 AM]

fun game, but so heavy on the flash it locks up my whole computer

  Anonymous [08.07.07 06:08 AM]

it is a great game, that is if you get a chance to play it. it seems this game has so many bugs that most people that i've read about who played it seemed to have more problems then fun. and the worst part is that no one seems like they care enough to even respond to the pleas for help let alone to actually fix the bugs!

  Lars [08.07.07 08:17 AM]

Quite addictive game actually. :)
Up to $150k now, but I can't say that I've discovered any of the bugs people mentions.

Not the most action filled game, but I check it every time I go online, does some research (got eaten a few times...), plot a new course and then log off until I go online again next time and hope that I'm close enough to a shark or port..

  Chris Wong [12.27.07 08:17 PM]

It would be cool if you could toss your crew members in when you found the shark. It would keep the crew on their toes anyway.

  Boat Guy [04.08.08 12:13 PM]

This game is fun. Like geocaching for sharks.

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