Did you hear the one about the Sydney Writers Festival game?

A man walks into a bar… he pulls out his iPhone and listens to an excerpt from a book as part of the Sydney Writers Festival competition. Hmmm… not bad but the punchline lacks a certain something; it’s just not as funny as the one about the atom.

So a couple of weeks ago I reviewed the absolutely excellent Sydney Writers’ Festival app. My only gripe was the inclusion of a button labelled ‘Play’ which did nothing: Well now it does.

The app has been updated to include a game “enticing audiences to the heart of Sydney’s coolest bars. Part bar hop, part book quiz, the Sydney Writers’ Festival iPhone game challenges you to unlock some of the stories of the 15th Sydney Writers’ Festival.”

Players receive a map with the location of four bars in central Sydney. When the player goes to one of the bars, stories held within the app become unlocked. Each ‘story’ is an audio excerpt from a recent book by a Sydney Writers Festival author. Listening to these stories enables iPhone users to enter the Sydney Writers’ Festival competition by working out which author and book the story comes from.

Overall it’s a clever idea. The game fits in well with the private/public/secrets theme; it’s a good use of the medium in that it actually makes use of the iPhone’s GPS; and it’s simple enough to be fun. And on another level it’s basically a pub crawl made clever, so there’s little room for it to go wrong. So yet again kudos to the designers for coming up with something interesting.

Oh and the funny geek joke… An atom walks into a bar, sits on a stool and breaks down in tears. The bartender comes over and asks what’s the matter. “I think I just lost an electron.” says the atom. The bartender asks, “Are you sure?”  The atom says, “Yes, I’m positive.” Boom, boom.

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