My iPad got more use this weekend than it has had it's entire iLife. And that's saying something... I only put it down last night b...

Curiosity Killed the Cat. And the Michaela.

My iPad got more use this weekend than it has had it's entire iLife. And that's saying something... I only put it down last night because it was 1.45am, I had to be up in 4hrs and well, the battery died for about the gabillionth time. I was not selling unwanted Xmas gifts on eBay. I was not following current events. I was not watching #MrSelfridge. I was being curious. Very curious. Crazy curious.

That's right. This weekend I spent more time than is healthy tapping away at the screen on my iPad destroying cubes. I now have over 6 million points in a game called 'Curiosity - What's Inside The Cube'.

Curiosity is a social and digital experiment from development company 22Cans that can be played on your iPhone, iPad or Android. 

Here, let me explain... download the app to start with, of course. When you open the app, you will see the cube - it is suspended in a white room and each face of the cube is made up of hundreds of tiny pixels/ cubes that you destroy by tapping. The more you destroy, the more points you get. There are many layers. We don't know how many. There are some tools you can buy in-app to help you destroy more cubes. 

Here's the thing: if you are the person to chip away at the final cube on the final layer, you win. What do you win? Well, no one knows yet. But we're told it will be life-changing. It might sound a bit dull at first, but it get’s addictive. And it’s strangely cathartic! As well as that, I was interested to discover that:

  • it was originally set-up as an experiment to test their servers and it has snowballed in the short time it has been around – over 4million downloads from iTunes alone (also available on Android)
  • it updates in real time – while you’re chipping away, everyone else in the world is chipping away at the same time and you can see cubes disappearing around you. This can be annoying when you are doing an amazing drawing and someone from the States starts writing “YOO ESS AHY!” in an arrogant jock tone over your pixels
  • people are being quite creative with their “cubing” - see Mona Lisa. As you can imagine, a lot of people are drawing knobs with spurts coming out of them and writing “CLUNGE”... But every now and again I saw some really cool stuff!
  • On average it takes about 8hrs for a single layer to be destroyed. At any one time, there are around 2 million people currently cubing.
  • there are some tools you can buy in-app that help you be more artistic and help you destroy more cubes
  • they scroll messages over the cube very subtly... And they collate conversations about the game with #curiosity on twitter

22Cans is headed up by Peter Molyneux, who I hadn’t heard of before, but who I later find out is a bit of God in the word of online/ video gaming... Coincidentally, he is redeveloping the God game as “Godus” - which reached it’s funding targets on Kickstarter for over £300k worth of backing. 

What’s interesting about the Kickstarter campaign is what they offered in return for supporting them – if you're into gaming and you know Peter Molyneux, these are money can't buy thank-you's.

Anyway, I’m not entirely sure where it goes, and I don’t think I will be tapping until the final layer, but I am fascinated at how something so simple caught the attention of a non-gamer like myself so intensely and for so long. And it does make me wonder whether brands need to go back to thinking a bit wider and playing with tech a bit more – let’s have fun again, let’s do something that doesn’t always make perfect sense IF it stil serves a purpose – educate, inform, reward or entertain. 

Maybe big brands really do need to start paying attention to that (apologies) oh-so-of-the-moment buzz-word: "gamification".  At worst, let's just be a bit more CURIOUS.

By Michaela MacIntyre @mich_maci

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