Light Raider

Half a year after HackManchester I decided to give  a go to a Data-Based Hackaton… this time joining a team with friends. The result was the Light Raider, an Android app that encourages running among Mancunians by targeting lamps in the streets. It went really well as we won in “life quality” topic … and I used that money to get me an Oculus Rift SDK 2 (but that is a different story) and we even got showcased by some of the local media.

The Hackaton was organized by  the Greater Manchester Data Synchronisation Programme (GMDS) They offered a very wide variety of open data from Greater Manchester’s councils, and it was the “competitors” role to create new and interesting applications and services that are able to communicate with the datasets in order to create a more intelligent city.

Of all the datasets that we could choose we loved the ones that store the information of every street-lamp in a council… and as the topic: improve Mancunian’s quality of life. After thinking hard and many discussions we decided to take one of my original ideas and mix it a bit: Light Raider.

Light Raider is an Android game that uses some concepts from Ingress, RunKeeper and Tamagochi to make users go out and run. In this game, the user has a pet (a light bulb) that is constantly demanding to be fed with energy, so every 1-2 days the user must go out and retrieve some energy in order to keep it alive… and here is where the game gets interesting. Once the player decides to go out running, the view changes to a countdown and the user must retrieve energy faster than it drains in order to fulfil the “batteries” of the light-bulb. To do so all street-lamps around the phone are retrieved from the council’s data set and, every time the user pass by a new lamp, the energy levels go up a little bit.

Sounds easy? It is not. On running mode the light-bulb’s battery drains quite fast and requires the user to actually run. But also the lamps visited by the user are remembered… which means he has to conquer new ones every time.

Still easy? Ok! It is not only about visiting new lamps. In the map the user can see which lamps have been raided by other players already and he will need to reconquer his territory if he wants to score high in the general competition. If the pet dies (not getting energy for a few days) all the attached lamps are freed and the general score goes back to 0.

With this system for micro (pet energy) and macro (lamps raiding) “encouraging system” the user should have enough motivation to go out and do a bit of exercise hopefully!