GAMELAYERS, a San Francisco startup, has developed a massively multiplayer online game, which uses ordinary Web browsing. The game’s aim is to “improve” the experience of navigating the Net, by adding guidance and companionship to surfing.
The game, called PMOG (passive multiplayer online game) takes place across the whole Web, around the clock. The concept is that players get points for their online surfing habits as opposed to fictional characters they create. Players collect points as they visit different sites and can take part in or set missions which will lead themselves and others through a variety of different websites. Along their way, players can send each other instant messages; leave link “gifts”, points, and various game equipment.
They can even detonate small virtual explosives which make the other players' browser windows temporarily and harmlessly shrink. Players can opt in or out of the game whenever they want and can leave notes for each other on the sites they visit, but these will be invisible to all non players. As in MMOGs, gamers pick up tools and skills along their way, in a game that is never-ending.
The game is basically one big instant chat, Wikipedia, bookmarking, social network, MMOG experience all rolled into one. CEO and cofounder Justin Hall reckons, “we're layering games on top of things that are already there".
To play, all a user has to do is install a special toolbar and log in. PMOG then starts to track the sites they visit, giving them points for each unique URL visited within 24 hours.
The company plans to generate revenue out of advertiser sponsored missions, for which players would earn bonus points. The game is currently being tested by about 6,000 registered players and will be open to others very soon. GameLayers also plans to develop a version of the game for mobile phones. µ
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