The New York Times
The Times has figured out a great way to increase time-on-site (and destroy our productivity) by illustrating a story about our obsession with “stupid games” with a game that lets you shoot and destroy parts of its website. Don’t like that navigation? Fire away. Find Maureen Dowd irksome? Take aim at her story on the “most popular” list. Tired of that Facebook plugin telling you what your friends are reading? It’s just a few shots from oblivion. And look at all those video-game characters just begging to be blown up! Some parts of the Web page can’t be destroyed, such as the article tools.
The Times’ Samantha Henig writes in a blog post, “Surprisingly, even the ad sales department was O.K. with letting the ads on the page be blown up. But if Twitter is any indication, readers are getting the most glee from knocking out the ‘most popular’ box.” (Audience targeting lesson: Many of the ads are for video games.)
Oh, right: the story. This game is supposed to illustrate a story about hyperaddictive games like Angry Birds and FarmVille. Sam Anderson writes that the “stupid games” movement started with Tetris:
In the nearly 30 years since Tetris’s invention — and especially over the last five, with the rise of smartphones — Tetris and its offspring (Angry Birds, Bejeweled, Fruit Ninja, etc.) have colonized our pockets and our brains and shifted the entire economic model of the video-game industry. Today we are living, for better and worse, in a world of stupid games. …
Stupid games … are rarely occasions in themselves. They are designed to push their way through the cracks of other occasions. We play them incidentally, ambivalently, compulsively, almost accidentally. They’re less an activity in our day than a blank space in our day; less a pursuit than a distraction from other pursuits. You glance down to check your calendar and suddenly it’s 40 minutes later and there’s only one level left before you jump to the next stage, so you might as well just launch another bird.
Anyway, back to the really important stuff: What was your high score?
The game was created by Jon Huang, a multimedia producer for the Times. He’s also a beekeeper, “not for The New York Times,” he says on his Twitter page. Why someone would play with bees when he could shoot up nytimes.com, I’ll never know. Huang based the game on the game Kick Ass, created by a company called Rootof Creations. The company says in promoting the game, “Who hasn’t ever wanted to destroy someone’s Facebook page or a competitor’s website. Now you can, and in a glorious fashion.” Looks like a new version is coming out soon. || Hidden data? Alex Howard wonders if the Times could use the game to see what portions of its site users would like to see removed. (O’Reilly Radar Tumblr)
Correction: This post originally said that the ads couldn’t be destroyed, but that apparently was due to the poor marksmanship of the author.