Game your game

Posted: November 16th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Advertising, Gaming | 2 Comments »

I saw this really cool looking web game / competition for Uncarted 3 recently. The idea of the site is to ‘Grab the Ring’ which involves you holding your hand in a certain place for the longest. If you move – you lose. Oh. If you win, you win $10,000.

Simple idea. Sort of relevant to the game. Pretty neat.

So I tried it. I saw the site was built in Flash and well I started to wonder, are they using face tracking with some sort of blob detection to check if your hand is in the right place. Well. Possibly no. The game is using some sort of background difference check to figure out if your hand has moved. So I starting thinking and I tried a test. Could I trick the system into thinking I’m ‘there’.

Well yep I could. All I needed was a water bottle in the frame when I started the game and then I left it there – the game thought I was still playing. I then wondered if the game moves the ring around the screen to stop someone doing this. So I left the game running.

As you can see I clocked up 4 minutes and I could have left the game running for days. If the game had moved the ring around every ten minutes, or used face tracking (which still could be gamed) then this game could have been less open to a hack. I also wonder if pictures of what I’m doing were being sent somewhere for someone to check (but this feels highly unusual as it would break privacy rules).

So just a thought. If you are going to make a game with a brilliant prize –  people will ‘game’ your system.

You can design your way around that but ultimately people will do it.


  • Anonymous

    “If you are going to make a game with a brilliant prize –  people will ‘game’ your system.” I’ve often thought about this principle as regards the monetization/commercialisation of social media. What do you get with a better Klout score and what would you do to score higher for instance?

  • Anonymous

    Interesting post. I think that in this case it comes down to non-competing goals of the game designer versus the game player. The goal of the player is obviously to win the money but in this case the goal of the designer is not to keep the player from winning, it is to promote a particular product or service. 

    I’ve developed a few site and social media based contest and promotions. I would definitely agree I’ve seen people try to “game” each one. It still bothers me a bit but not as much as it used to. The challenge now, I think, is to try and develop a system where “gaming” the system still in some way helps to further the promotion or product.