FridaySince the advent of the Internet, companies have been searching for ways to make the online realm more fun. These days you can play games online with friends on social networks or join online leagues that broadcast on YouTube. As the online world expands we’re getting more and more ways to play together online. This week saw the release of two new ways to play, from two very different tech giants.

Jam With Chrome

Google like to play and they create apps, Google Doodles and Easter Eggs to prove it. From Zerg Rush to the Feedburner ninja, Google have always been ready to throw a bit of fun into their products. Now though, they’ve created a product that’s built entirely on fun. Jam with Chrome is basically an online version of Rock Band, with no preset songs. You choose your instrument, invite your friends and jam online.

The web application is really just a showcase for Google’s online abilities and another attempt at building brand awareness for Chrome. But it’s great fun too. The problem with apps like this, particularly smartphone music apps, is that it’s impossible to replicate an instrument digitally. Musical instruments offer such an intuitive interface, with so much potential that any attempt to replicate the interface digitally just feels fake. Google, taking their lead from games like Rock Band, have simplified the interface and made it work for users.

By adding the jamming element, they’ve taken it to another level. You can invite friends from your social networks to come and jam with you. You can start your own online band! That element takes something that might have been fun to play around with for two minutes and turns it into a social option. Haven’t seen your friend for a while because they’re overseas? Don’t just reminisce about getting the old band together. Why not get together and y’know jam?

Curiosity: What’s In the Box

Sometimes an idea comes along that stops you in your tracks with its simplicity. Curiosity is one of those things. It’s a mobile game, available on iOS and Android, with the simplest of interfaces. You’re presented with a cube that you can rotate and zoom into and when you tap it, a tiny square changes color. The object of the game is to tap away at the box until you get down to the middle and find out what’s in the box. So far, so very straightforward, but here’s the kicker. If you and I both play it, we’re looking at the same cube. When you tap a square, that square changes in my game. Everyone who plays, 170,000 at last count, is working on the same box. Which means, at the end, there will only be one winner. Only one person will find out what’s in the box.

According to Curiosity’s creator and video game legend Peter Molyneux, what’s in the box is “life-changingly amazing by any definition.” If you know your video games, you’ve probably just thought ‘oh, Peter Molyneux, I see.’ For those of you who’ve never heard of him, Molyneux is video game royalty. He created classic games like Populous, Fable and Black & White. He’s always been an ambitious inventor of things, usually things that aren’t technically achievable yet. He once promised, before the release of Fable, that trees in the game would grow in real time. The fact that this was technically impossible didn’t stop him trying.

He had to apologize for that, and so far he’s had to apologize for curiosity too. The ‘experiment’, as Molyneux calls it, has received so much activity that its servers have been overloaded. But they’ve confirmed they’re working on it and they intend to see it through. In total 80 billion chips need to be taken out of the box before the eventual winner discovers what’s inside. It took two days for 170 million to be chipped away. So it might take a while, but if we all work together we may just find out what is in the box.

These are two very different apps, created for very different reasons. But they both prove one thing. As the online world gets bigger and more layered, the real world’s just getting smaller. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a box to open. You can give me a hand, if like.

Developing a marketing strategy is vital for any business. Without one, your efforts to attract customers are likely to be haphazard and inefficient. Download our online marketing strategies tips for your businessDownload our online marketing strategies tips for your business.