I was given a chance to play the new mobile phone game – UK:The Game this morning. Full disclosure – they gave me a free code to try it out. They are normally £20 (on sale at the moment for £12), and you need access to a mobile phone with at least text messaging (which phone doesn’t) and (for certain features) MMS or email.
How it works
You have to select the zone that you want to play in. For London at the moment they have Covent Garden and the City of London.
You are given a code which you text to a special number. This starts off the game by sending you the choice of locations. You need to start in a specific place for both zones – the Piazza at Covent Garden was my start point.
As soon as I sent the code I received instructions on my phone – telling me how the game was going to work – how to answer questions, earn extra points, undertake photo challenges and how to send photos to the site.
The site provides directions to each location and the answers a challenge question about the location. As you can see here it looks for you to find a crunchy fruit linked to one of the sections of the market. If, after looking around you don’t find the answer you can text HINT and the system will respond with assistance for you. If you fail and want to give up, you can skip to the next set of directions.
Once you have answered one of the questions you are rewarded with a piece of information about where you are, and then prompted with the next set of directions.
Where it took me
I was doing the walk fairly early in the morning (I started at 8am) and the streets and pavements were pretty quiet. The instructions took me all over the place, walking through and along the edges of Covent Garden, hunting out little alleys, backstreets and locations, some of which I never knew were there – despite living in London for more than 20 years. I visited pubs with connections to members of the Royal Family, buildings that were important to the modern day, and wonderful new things that you might never see otherwise.
How long it took
The web site suggests 2-3 hours and had the roads and pavements been busier I might well have taken this time. Plus, I was really testing out the technology rather than using it as a Guidebook. Had I stopped for coffee or lunch, or had some of the locations been opening, then this is an accurate estimate of the amount of time needed, and desired.
At £12 the pricepoint is quite high, plus you have to pay for the text messages. However, it’s pretty good value in terms of finding out of the way places, plus finding out great facts in a fun way. I can easily imagine a family with kids spending 2-3 hours and making a great game out of it, and considering it good value of money in comparison to so much of London. As a local I am not best placed to judge value.
How the Technology worked
99% perfect. In truth the only issues I had were mine – autocorrect kept changing ‘HRH’ to ‘heh’ which caused the system to think I wanted to skip on to the next set of directions. One of the answers to the questions required you to see something on a building. Unluckily the building was clad in scaffolding so I had to skip that one. There was one clue that was slightly misleading, but perhaps that was the plan. It caused me to wander round for ten minutes looking for it!
I would say ★★★★ out of 5. A good application which is novel enough to catch on!