Other games to try

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Steven
Participant
#

On the Tag-O-Rama thread, Dan complained that the game is tough for people who don’t know much of Pittsburgh, and those without flexible work schedules. Here are two alternative games we might try playing, in addition to Tag-O-Rama. Both try to de-emphasize the racing element.

In Dino Bike, the goal is to post a photo of your bike at every one of the dinosaur statues within the boundaries of the Bike Pgh map. There would be a Google map to show where they all are, and a table to keep track of what everybody’s got so far. No points for being the first to put a new dinosaur on the map, only for how many you’ve found. So it’s basically an excuse to ride all over the city at your own pace, whenever you have time, and see the sights. It’s not a race, and you don’t have to know the city to do well.

Alternatively, here’s one that reduces Tag-O-Rama’s racing element, while still keeping the find-the-location aspect. It should be easier for those who can only play at certain times of the week, and maybe helps a little with not knowing the city.

In Trophy Bike, players post photos of their bikes at interesting places they choose, same as Tag-O-Rama. But when you find someone else’s tag, you don’t identify its location. You just post your own photo of your bike there. The goal isn’t to get there first, but to find all the tags.

Made into a game, it could work like this:

The game goes in rounds. Each round begins with a 48-hour setting period.

Setting tags: During each setting period, everybody gets to set exactly one tag. (So there could be a large number of active tags at any moment.)

You can take your new-tag photo in advance, since this is not a race, and have it ready for posting whenever the next round starts.

After 48 hours, the setting period ends. No setting new tags until the next round begins!

Finding tags: You can find tags at any time, even during the setting period, and post your photo. You can always find tags set in previous rounds too.

After a round is over (or if nobody’s found your tag after several days), the tag-setter should post more clues.

A new round starts once the setting period is over AND every tag has been found by at least one player.

Scoring: You get a point for each tag you find. You also get fractional points for setting tags: the total number of people who have found that tag to date, divided by the total number of tags set in its round. (So if 5 people set tags during round 3, every time anyone finds your round-3 tag, you get 1/5 of a point.)

Would anyone like to try playing either of these games? Or propose modifications? I just made them up, so the rules could require some adjustments to work well.


Pseudacris
Participant
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I like both of these ideas. The names are good, too. I can imagine Trophy Bike getting pretty interesting on locations where there is an opportunity to play around with staging the photo, then seeing a spot from many angles.

I think it could be fun to have a game where you use your bike for various “drive-up” conveniences…take-out, laundry drop off, drive up banking, valet at night club, etc. “Bike-Up?” We can skip the car wash and that drive-through strip club in Murraysville.


stefb
Participant
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But i wanna ride my bike through a drive through strip club. I thought that place closed btw.


Pseudacris
Participant
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^ hmm, maybe it did. I haven’t passed it for a while. It’s on the way to Clem’s BBQ.

edit: yep, closed.


Ahlir
Participant
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I’m willing to try anything that’s not too complicated and that gets new people on board.

Here are my two ideas for modifying the current game. They keep the competitive element but don’t let anyone run up insurmountable leads (which I believe is what makes the game daunting to newcomers):

1) Make it a succession of games, each with a maximum score; whoever gets there first, “wins” the round. We could limit the current game to, say, 13. Or just declare Lyle and me the “winners” and switch to the new scheme. Subsequent games should have a top score of 5 or so. (The current series could be scored retroactively using this scheme.)

2) Base the leader board on a rolling window, say 3 months. To stay on the board you have to keep playing. But a new person can start anytime, and if they keep at it, they have a shot at being the “leader” in the current period. This also ages off people who lose interest, particularly those who’ve run up a big score.

A possible drawback might be the ambiguous status of old tags. Are they eligible for re-use in the current game or window? There’s also ongoing book-keeping.

Some comments on Steven’s proposals:

1) The first game is self-limiting; once you’ve completed the rounds, you’ve “won” and might lose interest in following the game.

2) The second game would require some infrastructure to collect data and score. The current message board doesn’t seem suited for this (a separate website is probably appropriate).


TeamDecaf
Moderator
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Why keep score? I’ve been watching from the sidelines, thinking it’s just interesting to see all of the places you can get to on a bike. Trophy Bike seems like it could have participation, regardless of scoring.


Steven
Participant
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I’m not sure the insurmountable leads are what’s keeping people from playing. I think it may be more the time element, and lack of familiarity with the city, as Dan suggested. We get clues showing an almost-featureless wall, and somebody snaps it up in a few hours. Even if you happen to luck out and recognize the wall, you still won’t get it if you have a regular job and some other player doesn’t. Making it a series of games or setting up a rolling window doesn’t seem to help with that.

Besides, the current game seems to be working pretty well for most. There are 38 players, which seems pretty impressive relative to the number of regular posters on the message board. I’m not sure it needs changing, just alternatives for those who aren’t in a position to drop everything and race.

I agree about the self-limiting issue with Dino Bike, but I assume we could think up a second category if we played it and people liked it. (Which ties into your succession-of-games idea.) Future categories might include public artwork, certain restaurant types (Greek, say), interesting architecture, etc.

I imagine the infrastructure for Trophy Bike could just be another publicly-editable spreadsheet on Google Docs, like the existing one for Tag-O-Rama, with people still posting their tags here on a message board thread.

Re: drive-up banking. I can report that the drive-up Citizens Bank ATM at the Waterworks Mall is functional from a bike, though the screen isn’t angled very conveniently. No data to report on the bikeability of the former drive-through strip club though.

Since there seems to be some interest, I’m going to set up the two games, and we can try them and see what happens.


dwillen
Participant
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I dig both ideas. Sorry I came off as so negative. I don’t really want to play the game to win, I just want to play. The current game doesn’t allow an opportunity for me to play most of the time, because I am either waiting for someone to drop a new tag, or I have no clue where the current tag is. The easy ones get snatched up before I’m even thinking about leaving work. This is a good thing, since it means lots of people are actually out there playing the game.

Ahlir has some good points about the limitations of these two ideas. How about combining them? My proposal goes something like this:

a) A single tag is posted and lasts X hours (48 sounds good). The tag includes a google map or at least enough of a clue so someone not familiar with Pittsburgh would be able to easily find it. This removes the new-to-town barrier and is similar to the dino-bike, where the location is mostly known. The point is riding your bike, not figuring out an obscure clue.

b) Anyone and everyone is encouraged to go take a photo at the tag during the X hours. If it becomes too popular, just start a new thread every month. Similar to both games, in that everyone can grab a tag and order doesn’t make a difference.

c) At the end of those X hours, someone randomly (names in a hat, dice, random number generator, etc.) selects 1 person that played in the previous round to set the tag for the next round. There is an opportunity here to easily expand the game if it becomes popular…randomly select 2 (or more) people for the next round instead of 1, and have multiple tags at once. Since you don’t know when you’ll be tapped, archive files are encouraged to get the new tag up as soon as possible. This allows everyone a chance to set a tag, regardless of when they grab the previous one, reduces lag time between tags, and someone can join in or drop off at any point. This is almost exactly Trophy bike, but simplifies it a bit since there will only be Y tags per X hours, where you control Y. It makes scoring a bit easier as well, if you competitive types want to keep score.

This would allow a casual player to always have some tag to go grab, and a shot at getting picked for the next round. Competitive players can play every time for more points and glory.

Also: you could incorporate other games within this one. Best photo, most creative tag, or whatever else you can think up. Just stick up an online poll somewhere once per month/quarter and have people vote. People will have more time to get a decent picture and think about their tag if there isn’t always a race to the finish.


Steven
Participant
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Trophy Bike seems like it could have participation, regardless of scoring.

My thinking was that setting up a different goal might help wean players from trying to be first. Also, giving points when people get your tag means you have an incentive not to make them too hard. (I figure shame will suffice for keeping people from dropping too-easy tags just to score points. :-) )

But you could well be right. Scores might not matter. I think Tag-O-Rama had a huge number of tags before anyone started asking who had gotten the most.


Steven
Participant
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Dan, I don’t think you came off as negative, and I agree the current game should continue. (As a barely-in-it player, I vicariously enjoy the exploits of the better Tag-O-Rama players, who can recognize blurry rocks and ride through the occasional hurricane in the pursuit of a tag. :-) )

And I think your proposal is really good. Nice and simple.

I suggest starting with Y=2 (two tags in play at once), so we can get an idea if that’s too many or too few, and how it works out when one tag is harder than the other.

Needs a name though. “Lottery Bike”? “Random Bike”? “That Dan Bike Game”? :-)


dwillen
Participant
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Since we’re starting with Y=2, how about “Wheelset of Fortune”.


edmonds59
Participant
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I would say the game doesn’t need any changes, I’ve been watching from the sidelines and have enjoyed seeing the tags. I have been able to identify the majority of the tags, I know the city pretty damn well even though I am at present a suburban ratbastard. The main things that have kept me from playing have been the weather and the fact that I am only outside of work in total darkness.

But one of these days I will get one and you all will be stumped. Ha, ha, ha. HA, HA, HA!


sloaps
Participant
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I’m for making the tags a bit easier and limiting the number of tags a person can obtain.

Perhaps one tag per person for every fifth round, tenth round, or if you had recently obtained a tag you have to bring another, less experienced tagger to obtain the next one? This way would discourage experienced folks from tagging the easy ones and/or encourage less experienced or unfamiliar neo-pittsburghers to participate. yeah?


boostuv
Participant
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Wait, wait, wait. Time out. Theres a drive through strip club? Um details?


Ahlir
Participant
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On the whole, my preference would be to keep the game as-is. It was always about testing your knowledge of the city and your ability to set a good tag (with a clever clue).

I believe that the right thing to do is to let things evolve naturally; if some people really want a different game, they can just start one and see how things go.

On Steven’s Dinosaur game: I think it could work if it were cast as something like a “badge”. Get pictures of all n dinos and you get a t-shirt! We already have Dippy as dino number one.

@boostuv: there might have been such an establishment, but the details are scanty. (Sorry, had to say that.)


Lyle
Participant
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I felt that the game was doing fine without scores. There was a competitive element, which was pretty much focused on the immediate tag at hand. I think there was a sense of who the people were that were getting more tags, but it wasn’t formalized. I was grabbing a lot of tags for a while there, but it that was only partly out of competitiveness, and mostly because I wanted to place some new tags — to provide a new challenge for everyone else or to showcase something interesting I have seen around town. Like the door handles on that architect’s office. It’s embarrassingly ego-gratifying to be at the top of a list, but I wouldn’t be sorry if we dropped the list (but keep the map!)

I don’t really think that being new to the city is a big impediment unless you make it one. Many of the tags are foreign to me, and I’ve lived here almost as long as anyone. On the other hand, there are a half-dozen watchers/players who have lived here longer, and they’re pretty far down in the “ranking”. I have found most of the tags with Google, a bit of logic, and sometimes, a lot of riding. Water towers, cemeteries, the Clock building in Sharpsburg (I found that on Flickr), public art, and so on. It might make the difference between “first” and “third” place, but really, if someone is so competitive that prevents them from even playing, that’s their own issue.

Many of the tags are themselves relatively new. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve lived here when the place itself is only two years old. Graffiti hummingbirds?!?

As far as the points scheme goes, I don’t think that anyone ever had or has an insurmountable lead. It might have seemed like quizbot or I were way out front early on, but Ahlir came up from behind, and lately it seems like bikeygirl and stefb are dominating. Perhaps a handicap system would be appropriate — In the event of a “bruce”, each post would be applied a time penalty proportional to how many tags that poster has already snagged. (But then, we’d need an age handicap, and probably a weight handicap because so many tags are up some cliff :(. In the spirit of opening things up to n00bs, the next three tags that I place, anyone who has acquired 1 tag or fewer can PM me and I’ll reply with the exact location.

It’s not that I’m opposed to other reindeer games, but I do believe that the number of active and enthusiastic participants in this game has grown over time and will continue to grow organically. It’s a fun way of getting people out on the bikes, and I’ve recommended it to other cities. People who aren’t participating may very well not participate in any other game either. Heck, I put a tag so close to swalfoort’s office she could have tripped on it, and she didn’t pick it up. Nearly the same goes for edmonds. (Not to pick on them, they’re just convenient examples of active onlookers who haven’t jumped in.)

On the other hand, a group ride to a bunch of drive-through locations does have possibilities for an amusing photo calendar.


dwillen
Participant
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Right now it seems there are 2-3 people at most that go try and “race” for a tag, while everyone else sits on the sidelines. I know that I’ve spent more time googling clues trying to figure out where a tag is than I have actually riding to get said tags. I agree the game is tons of fun to follow along with, and I will continue to do so.. and even rush out the door to go grab a tag that I know.

That said, nobody has or is suggesting anything be done to the current game. This is a discussion for a second, alternative game to be played concurrently with the first game.

If there are 40 active participants in the other thread, then there are 40 people who want to go ride out and take a photo of their bike in some random location. Why not create a second game so there is always such an opportunity for those people? It would be pretty cool to have all 40 people biking to the same spot in a short period. Chances are you’ll run into someone you know.

I can’t see it hurting or detracting from the original tag game. Is there really a serious argument against this?


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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-1 on keeping score.

I’m happy enough just knowing where one is, or learning about a tag I didn’t know where was, or in the rare case I grab one (I’ve had, what, three?), telling people about it.

This is a cool city; even The Economist says so. Getting around by bike is the coolest way to travel in the city. Tag-o-Rama is a cool way to learn things about the city. Anything that gets more people riding, the better. The more games, the better.


Tabby
Participant
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start another game. I like the ideas and it will be fun to have more things to participate in.


cburch
Participant
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more games are cool. i cant think of an argument against it, as long as it isn’t positioned as “we don’t like the tag game so we are starting this instead. do our game because the tag game is stupid.”

the keeping score doesn’t bother me since i don’t bother to look at the google doc. i know im probably at the bottom, but who cares? if i see one that i can get to without altering my riding plans too much i’ll go grab it. i have a couple in mind that i will drop eventually, but i the meantime its fun to be reminded of cool things i had forgotten about or didnt know.

i am shocked that stef is so high up because she mostly has no idea where stuff is and works crazy hours. but again, the only reason i have any idea at all of where she is in the rankings is because of other people (mostly her) talking about it.


ejwme
Participant
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I thought the proposals were for additional games. I like that. I think Tag-o-Rama, with it’s bajillion postings, has prooven popular enough to continue on its own.

I like removing the time pressure. I don’t care about the scoring (awesome if it gets more people to play, but I intend on ignoring it, I’m most motivated by approval and chocolate). I kind of like things with definite ends, so I can point and say “I did THAT”. It’s nice to say “I’m doing that”… but with out discretized parts, a continuum can be tiring.


Pseudacris
Participant
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+1 to what Lyle says


bikeygirl
Participant
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Hrm…. I think that to start other games is a great idea to engage even more people on riding their bikes and discovering the city, but are rather taken aback by some of the arguments regarding why some people are not, or have not, being able to participate as much.

1.- Yes: While knowing the city, or at least have lived on it for awhile is helpful, there has been a variety of tags from super-obvious to super-obscure, to appeal to anyone. Plus the more you venture riding in the city, the easier it will be to recognize some (specially if google street view or wikipedia fail).

2.- Yes: Having a smartphone with camera is helpful, but I think that adds to the fun, for one can still be bruced even if using a smartphone… I have been bruced 3-times that way.

3.- Yes: While I agree that keeping score is not neccesary, I would think that it would maybe incite people to be like “hey! I want to joing the fun too”

Plus…. 129 tags, of which while there are some pointers there (Ahlir, Lyle), 38 people have participated… and many of the tags gotten by the higher-scores, have helped the game move-along when it gets stuck, so I for one appreciate their work!

4.- Obviously, time is the essence in here, and that is just a matter ot time & luck…. I work full time and have busy weekends, but I also commute in my bike to work everyday, so hence why I’ve gotten luckier = less competition in the road this winter!!

5.- Ultimately, if one wants to participate in any kind of game, or ride, or anything… it is up to the participant…. if you wanna do it, you just wise up AND do it…. and if you fail the first or second time, well dang it! Try again…

Sorry about his mini-rant, but seriously….. I think that ALL of the people who have gotten tags, besides a dose-of-luck, have worked their darnest in picking up & dropping their tags even when challenging…..

There are so many things I love about the city, that if I try to keep up & get tags, is because that is the only way to drop tags and get to share them with people, so…

just my 2-cents

EDIT: Not arguing about starting new games -the more games the merrier!!! :) Only that one thing is to start a new game, and something else to dismiss a current game just because people thing is too hard, which is not -just challenging at times.

BTW… if there is a Dinosaur game, I did one of them :)


Ahlir
Participant
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Game idea: How soon can you do more miles than posts on Tag-O-Rama?


ejwme
Participant
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wait a minute – are people really arguing against starting new games, because they like the one that’s already started (and is NOT proposed to end)?

seriously?

if you like the game already in play, keep playing. if you don’t like the new game, don’t play. I don’t see why “Tag-o-Rama is awesome” and “Let’s start a new and different game” are conflicting thoughts. I’m holding both of them currently, with no ill effects. Well, my sanity’s never been proven, but I really don’t see the conflict.


Ahlir
Participant
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@ejwme: no one is arguing against new games, they are however discussing what would make for a good new game. Opinions differ.

This whole discussion started with an apparent complaint about the use of web-connected smartphones to gain advantage. Some people responded with suggestions for either tweaks to the existing game or with proposals for new games. Others posted a reminder about Rule 5. I believe the sense of the house at this time is:

1) Leave Tag-O-Rama alone

2) Encourage new (additional) games


Lyle
Participant
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I don’t think that people are seriously arguing against starting new games. But if there’s any way for it to be competitive, look out, cuz I think bikeygirl has developed a taste for the podium.


bikeygirl
Participant
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Oh Lyle…. :) You’re incorrect, more than competitive, I’m passionate about things, and have become very passionate about riding & discovering new places with my bike -nothing wrong with that. This game has added a new level to my otherwise commuter back-and-forth bike riding everyday, so I have embraced that.

And no, I have not developed a taste for the podium, but a taste for the challenge of trying to figure out tags, riding to get them in my little mountain-bike, and getting to share a new one when I drop one :)

Blah blah….. ultimatley I’m just saying that to start new games is fine, just don’t bash players -that’s all…… and I felt I had to defend myself since you & sloaps were picking on me :/

(sniff)

EDIT: Can we all just get along? And play as many games as inspiration is out there & enjoy them without name-calling?

Where there’s 2-wheels, there’s a way… -_-


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe
Participant
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Someone needs a hug…


HiddenVariable
Participant
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do i! how did you know?


Greasefoot
Participant
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Just a suggestion…Pedal Pittsburgh will be here soon enough in May. This would be a great opportunity for a massive treasure hunt/tag game along the course.


bikeygirl
Participant
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Thanks ALMKLM :)

Sorry… I think I over-reacted, but seriously… this bike-tag thing game is so much fun!!! Just get cracking :)

I think Lyle and sloaps need hugs too :)


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe
Participant
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Group hug?


sloaps
Participant
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If we hug, then I absorb all your points? And who’s this Bruce feller?

This is all good fun, just difficult to participate often due to work or not having a frick’n clue.

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