Friday, 28 January 2011

Zombies in Google Street View - The Emergence of a Virtual City Image

Marketing is always at the forefront of technology and rather quick in adapting and employing new tools. So it is not surprising to see the location visualisation tools being taken over by advertisement. Especially Google Products, that offer and actively promote an API are bound to this. Marketing as Marketing one could say.

Besides all this corporate battle and consumerism this development is interesting in an urban and very much spatial sense. A wider audience is engaged in virtual location based activities and starts to create a sort of virtual image of the city, in the sense of Kevin Lynch, based on the view the mainly commercial products offer. In a sense this shapes a paralel understanding of the environment we live in the data providers play more important role in this than probably thought of at first sight.

It would be interesting to see how the growing online representation of the local environment diverts from the mental map of the physical environment. Very soon the two can not be separated any longer.

Image taken from DontGoZombie / giving away free virgin trin tickets to car-driving zombies on Tottenham Court Road. Note the traffic enforcement officer in the zombie crowd - she is not a car driver, is she? Individual zombies will have a special comment to make, so has the traffic warden. Click the image to play.

Anyway Virgin Train has extended their Zombie Campaign to the online world of Google Street View. an invites customers to playfully save the zombies using Vigin Train tickets.

"The streets have been taken over by frustrated car-driving zombies who need to be saved. The streets need you!" The aim of the game is to turn the zombies into train passengers and get to the destination. This as well as the route to get there, depend on the starting point you provide using a post code. In this sense it is a virtually location based first person shooter.

Directions and handling are familiar from the street view use and the zombies are deployed by an orange van crossing the screen a times.

The zombies behave sort of behaving absent, aimlessly wandering, will however, occasionally sight you and try to tun you into a zombie. It is the sort of everyday urban battle scene. Though, your argument is quite convincing since your are giving away seemingly free tickets for Virgin Train journeys with your handheld Ticket machine. These papers unfold a rather transformatory inpact on individual zombies, bringing them back as humans and beaming them presumably onto the next platform at Euston Station where they get shipped north.

Virgin Train Network
Image taken from Virgin Trains / Where the free ticket potentially might take the zombies. So beware at any of these destinations of zombies emerging from the trains. Who knows what happens to the zombies turned train passengers upon emerging from the comfort of a vigin train trip.

The worst that can happen to you is that you go zombie and join the ranks of zombie car-drivers. However there is a rescue option by inviting your facebook friends to join the game and rescue you. This is clever marketing playing the drums in multiple orchestras.

Found via Google Geo Developers Blog.

1 comment:

Anita W said...

I think its very interesting you propose the idea that in this generation there is a cross generation of technology and the sense of place. No longer are we in the times where we experience places by visiting but we can experience every part of places just by the 'convenience' of our living rooms. But that at the same time seems extremely dangerous and deceitful. Take for instance the Guangzhou Opera House by Zaha Hadid, when comparing the real vs the virtual, the difference is quite big. In the virtual reality the building embraces the shear brilliance of zaha and her stylistic way approaching architecture but in reality it is a poorly built and poorly detailed piece of architecture that honestly made me lose a little faith in my worship of her architecture. In the digital age we are in endangering quality- why build something to immaculate detail when most of the people that are visiting the place are mostly visiting it online?