Amsterdam Commuters Are Playing Their Own Analog Augmented Reality Game
In contrast to the popularity of Pokémon Go, a Dutch artist has created a low-tech version to inject some fun into people’s daily travels
Since the release of Pokémon Go, the world has changed. People are spending more time outside in search of rare, wild Pokémon. It’s become such a prolific event that businesses have begun using it in their marketing schemes and police have issued Pokémon Go-specific safety warnings. Perhaps the most prolific aspect of Pokémon Go’s presence is a noted shift toward the acceptance of augmented reality (AR). In the past few years, AR has tried to make its name in the tech world, but people haven’t seemed ready for it just yet. Now that we’ve seen the wild success of Pokémon Go, it’s fairly obvious that digital developers can be successful using AR as long as they have the right product. For one digital artist in Amsterdam, that AR product is a little less digitally inclined, but it’s still a lot of fun for commuters. Daniel Disselkoen, a digital artist who works for the creative agency Headmade, decided commuters needed a better way to entertain themselves while commuting to work every day and that the municipal transport would be the perfect place to apply it.
He’s offering an augmented reality game for commuters that doesn’t require a phone—or technology of any kind.
His low-tech, analog version of an AR game comes in the form of stickers on city bus windows. He designed a monster that looks like a cross between a dinosaur and an alligator called GVBeestje, which literally means ‘GV little beast.’ The name is a play on words for the primary city transport company, which is called Gemeentelijk Vervoers Bedrijf and goes by GVB for short.
Disselkoen worked with the transport company to place stickers on the windows of their municipal trams. As the bus drives past people walking or biking on the streets, GVBeestie’s mouth is wide open, ready to “eat” unsuspecting people’s heads. Every time the GVBeestie consumes a head, a passenger adds a plus sign sticker above the GVBeestie sticker. It’s a game to see how many people are playing and enjoying the view. They can play with other passengers on the bus or take to social media to share their scores.
Disselkoen says he thought of this idea when considering how much time the average consumer spends on their phone while sitting on the bus. He had an idea about five years ago that would make the average commute a little more fun.
“I thought about this imaginative game I used to play with a speck on the window in the backseat of my parents’ car, to make the long journey more enjoyable,” he to Quartz before explaining how he started experimenting with the sticker game. “Every day I would travel just witnessing other passengers bopping their heads up and down.”
Now, he’s taking it to a mass scale. He’s already witnessed people playing the game, and evidence of their pursuits are both on bus windows and online. People often take to Twitter to share videos and updates of their success with #GVBeestje.
— Bram van Kersbergen (@bramvank) June 30, 2016
People have reported placing the stickers on their own cars, television sets, and around town. All of this is helping to raise awareness for the prolific spread of the game.
Will this game have the power to compete with Pokémon Go? Not likely. But it’s still a fun, analog version of AR that anyone can play. It’s also helping people to look away from their phones and spend more time observing the world around them while on public transit. Disselkoen says he’s “pretty proud that our paper Beestje is the antagonist of Pokémon Go in Amsterdam.”