Google Street View Sets Stage for Matrix-like Online Gaming

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-10-18 Print this article Print

Google could use its Street View imagery as the backdrop for the company's online gaming strategy if it chose to pursue this avenue.

That's the premise of this fun blog post by Phillip Winston, a computer graphics software programmer for a large neuroscience research lab.

Noting that the cost of creating quality content is one of the major costs of creating the game, Winston essentially said Google has that content in Street View:

Eventually the world will be useful for more than just "peeking at a remote location." It will become a platform on which games and other graphically rich applications can be built. Google will likely license the content to third parties, who will actually build the games and applications.

A game company will be able to license the entirety of the real world's roads and all the surrounding areas from Google. The data will be streamed over the network from Google's servers, where it is displayed seamlessly with the actual game elements.

Read the post. Winston has a good handle on how Google could get this done.

When I first read it, my reaction was "Oh my God!" Google has the ability to create a Matrix-like gaming world by taking real-world footage and overlaying fictional game players and roles atop it.

You could use Google's Street View back drop to be a blue gorilla fighting dragons or something fun and crazy like that. Greg Sterling notes that Google TV could be the go-to screen for this play, but it could also play well on smartphones with large screens and tablets.

That's setting aside the impossible legal quagmire associated with using people's homes and whole cities as game background, but I'm sure if Google blurs enough they can get around it.

This is bigger than you think because it would give Google a massively social platform -- assuming they made it a sort of massively multiplayer online game -- with which to face Facebook, which has propelled Zynga, Playfish and Playdom into the stratosphere.

Of course, Google threw cold water on my fired-up imagination by calling Winston's post purely speculative and promising that the company "has no plans to announce along those lines."

Indeed, Winston himself told me last week:

This post is purely speculation on my part. It is based on extrapolating from where Street View is today in 2010 combined with my own experiences in the videogame and simulation industries. However I have no inside information about Google or its plans. I am not associated with Google in anyway except I use their products.

In other words, he used his imagination. There's nothing wrong with that. These are the type of seeds users can plant to spur Google to pursue new avenues, and it's this type of thinking that will help Google from becoming stale online.

Google's serendipitous search plans are another way to do this, but Winston's inspiration actually came from the Google Chrome experiment "The Wilderness Downtown," which pairs HTML5 with music from the Arcade Fire.

"That kind of repurposing-of-mapping-content-for-entertainment made me think the next step is to use it for real-time games," Winston said.

Both industries are getting more and more realism every year. So in both you'll find people thinking about what it would be like to have perfect realism. People day dream about it all the time I think, because it seems to be where we are heading.

Unfortunately, for now, this is not where Google's heading.

What do you think? Should Google knuckle down with Street View and HTML5 to build a massive gaming platform? |

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