Day of the figurine, pervasive game

I just discovered this Day of the Figurine thing, which is a new pervasive game project carried out by lots of relevant actors (Blast Theory, Frauhnofer Institute, the Mixed Reality Lab, Sony Net Service). It seems to be a part of the european iPerg project. Here is how it's describe in the IPerG News Letter, August 2005

To participate in Day of the Figurines, the player must first visit a physical place. Here, they find a large scale model of an imaginary town at table height. The model is 1:100 and extends for several metres in all directions. The image is a mix of computer graphics and photographic collage.

The town has identifiable buildings such as the YMCA, the Big Chef, Video Zone, the XXX Cinema and the Battle of Trafalgar Square. There are other features such as a Cemetery, a Gasometer, a canal, a Level Crossing and an Underpass.

To play the game the visitor selects from a display of one hundred plastic figurines. They give the figurine a name, answer a few questions about him or her and then watch as she or he is placed at a random location into the model town. As they leave the space the player is given a small map of the town and a set of rules for the game.

An hour or so later the player will receive their first text message from the game, asking where their figurine would like to go. By replying to the message with the name of a place in the town the player's figurine is set on the path towards that destination. Each hour a turn is executed and the invigilator moves each figure a small distance towards their destination. There are 10 turns a day for 24 days.

Intermittently each player receives text messages to alert them to nearby figurines in the model city, to their figurine's arrival at a destination or to other events in the town. Each destination has a short description. For example, if you arrive at the The One Club you receive the SMS: "Home of the 2 Fs. The lock ins are legendary, the fire escape stairs have seen it all." The goal of the game is "to help others". Texting messages to other players may provide opportunities to do this.

I like the low-tech aspects of the thing:

The project is deliberately targeting low-end phones: it is playable on any phone that is able to receive SMS. Instead the technological focus is on orchestration and management tools. During the long-term test period, 8 players have been given phones that log Cell ID and upload this information to a server. We aim to use this data to assess when players are engaged, when they are most likely to play and how the game fits into their daily activity pattern. We will also carry out phone interviews with selected players at key moments, to study the interaction between game play and daily life.