This is a little bit different. Hello Lamp Post! is an innovative project from PAN studios that aims to turn Bristol into a playable city by making lamp posts and benches talk to you without the need for any hallucinogens. It’s even gone and won the Playable City 2013 Award.
It’s not every day you come across a game that involves an entire city and talking benches. PAN Studios have won the Playable City Award 2013, with their innovative solution for turning Bristol into a game.
Bloody Bristol gets all the best things, doesn’t it? It gets its walls adorned with Banksy’s street art, it has people turning it into a zombie roleplay experience for a night, and if ultra-realistic portrayal of teenage life Skins is to be believed, it’s also the most happening place on the planet for house parties.
Shut up about British TV that is now rubbish and tell us about the city-game, I hear you cry. Well, it works by using council codes that are already assigned to every object in the city – codes that are usually used for incredibly humdrum council activities and the like. However, with Hello Lamp Post!, ordinary Joe Public can now text that code to a number, and as if by sorcery, the very objects will come alive and start chatting with you about why you feel the need to deposit your chewing gum on them.
Well, not quite. But each object will automatically reply to your text with an automated question, allowing you to ‘interact’ with the city and discover its secrets. It sounds like it might be similar to things like Siri, in that the bot learns more complex responses depending on what people say to it. It may take some convincing to get people actively seeking codes on the sides of mucky bus stops, and could end up being far more interesting in concept than design if nobody plays it, but hopefully they find enough interested people to give it a fair trial.
It’s definitely intriguing, and, on winning the award, Ben Baker of PAN Studios said: “We are really flattered and excited to continue to develop the idea with Watershed on what makes a Playable City over the coming months. Our interest in the Playable City was rooted in its contrast to the smart city, the almost invisible structures that underpin modern services. We are asking people to wake up to street furniture and play with them in order to communicate with fellow citizens. We’re excited to see what Bristol comes up with!”