iPhone 5 Map Drives Players To Waze Traffic Sensor Game

by Pixeleen Mistral on 30/09/12 at 10:54 pm

Role playing a GPS-enabled sensor in the ARG hive mind

I decided to join the Waze traffic map game on my new iPhone last week, after reading far too many stories moaning about how Apple should never have dropped Google Maps from the new version of iOS.  The general tone of the Apple Map coverage has been along the lines of ZOMG!!! My iPhone is ruined 4evah! the Apple Maps are wrong in some places! How will life be worth living without Google?!?

This coverage overlooks certain troubling aspects of Google, the wardriving WIFI snooping Internet ad agency that keeps telling itself don't be evil - then quietly overrides web browser privacy protections. I've been limiting my contact with all things Google after that unfortunate Google+ suspension that locked up my e-mail and data until Google eventually decided I was real after all.

waze police report
GPS-enabled roleplay leads to live traffic and police sighting reports

So I'm fine with leaving Google Maps behind - especially now that I'm experiencing a whole new form of role play. I have spent most of the week playing the part of an autonomous techno-communist node in a network of mobile GPS sensors roaming real life's highways.

It's great! Not only do I get to play an open ended augmented reality MMORPG and contribute to the improvement of the human condition, I'm being rewarded with points and a rising ranking among the other players. In return for being tracked by my phone as I drive, I can level up and marvel at how my commute has been gameified.

Best of all, I am almost past the Waze noobie avatar look - a baby with a pacifier.

waze avatars
a selection of waze avatars - after your drive 100 miles

I've got my eye on some much more fashionable outfits, and hope someday I will be able to earn even better virtual clothes as I drive to work and report accidents and traffic backups - the fundamental form of gameplay in Waze. Why grind in WoW when you have to drive work anyway? If you are daring, you can text chat with other players, although I'm not sure how that could work if you are also supposed to be driving your car.

While the realtime traffic condition reports are quite good, I do think Waze could use a few of Second Life's fashion designers to help with the avatars. Aren't all avatars supposed to wear impossible spike heels and skankolicious outfits?

waze noobies and fashionistas
noobies with pacifiers and fashionistas on the mean streets of Durham, NC

Setting aside the virtual fashion scene and game play, Waze has an interesting business model that is something like a traffic oriented version of Wikipedia -- crowd sourcing both map updates and traffic reports. In contrast, Google throws money at the mapping problem by running dedicated Google cars wherever it can, but there are practical limits to how many cars Google can put on the roads. Waze should be able to compete with Google for at least map and traffic information at lower cost by crowd sourcing reports from people who were driving anyway.

I expect to be joined by quite a few more players, after Apple's Tim Cook mentioned mentioned last Friday that Waze is an alternative to Apple's iOS Map while the Foxconn smartphone and tablet reseller redraws their maps.

Now if we just had a real money trade for Waze points, I might be able to get that crown the cool players have a little sooner.

9 Responses to “iPhone 5 Map Drives Players To Waze Traffic Sensor Game”

  1. bubblesort

    Sep 30th, 2012

    I’ve been using Waze it for about a month now and I love it.

    I’ve been looking for a good AR platform to play with making AR games on my droid (Go to waypoint 1, get info on waypoint 1 on your screen, find a clue or take a picture of waypoint 1 to find waypoint 2, to to waypoint 2, etc…). The AR platforms I’ve found so far are unstable. Granted, I’m on kind of a low end T-Mobile Galaxy Exhibit, but I don’t think the issues I’m having are because my phone is a little underpowered.

  2. hobo kelly

    Oct 1st, 2012

    The JLU and Ravenglass Rentals will be following along that path looking for secret Fort Longcats which may have been deployed…

  3. pixeleen mistral

    Oct 1st, 2012

    The JLU can also update the Brainiac database with even more real life information and speculate for hours on the true identity of the many anonymous Waze drivers — imagine the fun!

  4. Mickey Blue Eyes

    Oct 1st, 2012

    The problem I have with Waze is that there is a particular store I go to frequently that has been at that location for decades, but Waze has no freakin’ idea how to get there. The Apple Maps app, despite all its problems, knows where it is and how to get there. Wayze has me go several blocks out of my way and try to enter from the opposite side where I am sure there is not an entrance.

    There was another example where I was going from point A to long-existing point B. The shortest route was to turn left on the main road. Waze told me to go straight at the main road, then make a long circuitous route curving back around to the main road before heading in the correct direction.

    While Waze maps looks pretty, Waze turn by turn guidance is utterly clueless.

  5. GreenLantern Excelsior

    Oct 4th, 2012

    Apps like Waze and Foursquare are mystifying. On one hand, people say they are extreme privacy advocates, and on the other hand, they will display their real time location on a map for anyone to see. I wonder if Waze has a creepy stalker avatar holding a stabby stabby kitchen knife. It might be appropriate for some of its users.

  6. HT

    Oct 14th, 2012

    they aren’t avatars, they are moods
    U know, to display how you feel, not how pathetic you would like to be..
    Oh, and it’s not a game, it’s a navigation application

  7. Mesa

    Nov 17th, 2012

    Hey shuddup, I don’t wanna get banned from RL.

  8. IntLibber

    Nov 28th, 2012

    GLE, been dressing as a creepy stalker with a stabby stabby kitchen knife a lot lately, eh?

  9. Potosi Abonwood

    Nov 29th, 2012

    GLE is just waiting for an app that lists the names of recently deceased people along with contact info for their families. Just so he can call and make sure the person is actually deceased.

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