The internet balloon race is back, brought to you again by that playful lot over at Poke
, London. In case you missed it last time
, 40,000 players picked a balloon (shaped like one of the Orange tariff animals
) and set them free, floating across over 1,500 websites that had signed on to become part of the digital journey across the web, clocking up a whopping 63 million online miles. Just as in the last game, all the pilots launch from the homepage
, travelling over some of the best sites on the web including Universal Music
and The Sun
, hoping to be the first to reach the edge of the internet.
'In an age of related links and contextualisation, it's nice to fly over websites that have no relationship to each other, other than they're part of an epic race across the internet.' Benjamin Tomlinson, creative director at Poke, told Contagious.
Contagious were lucky enough to be one of the first outsiders to see the new game. And it is much more of a game this time around. There are a stack of new features and tools for players and sites to use along the way - for starters the direction and the realisation that balloons float upwards, not sideways. Friendly players can help gift other balloons extra air along the way with a 'wave', thanks to the observation that when people are in balloons they sure as hell like to wave at people.
Twitter and Facebook tools help to find other players, chat and tell everyone about badges collected on the journey - yes more badges for lovers of digital pins. Adding to this are the inbuilt games - lots of little fun things to play along the way for extra air. In fact, the whole race now plays as much more of a game, with levels to work through that get longer and harder as you progress, as explained in the above video.
The Hyperblast, a power up that allows you to leap a number of pages with added Star Trek warp speed animation, is one of the most interesting features in the second iteration of the race. Collected in game, it is then activated through a smart iPhone app
and mobile site
(android available shortly), which can be done while you are playing, 2 screen style, or on the train home while you watch your balloons progress remotely.
The race is running from 8th-17th November, and the prize is pretty mega, with the fastest overall balloon winning a 5 star, eleven-night trip to Kenya including a hot balloon ride over the Masai Mara.
'It's a celebration of the web and all the epic and bonkers sites that make it up. You could race from a global brand's homepage to a blog post on the taxonomy of sneezing. And who knows who you'll meet on the way. Orange wants to tell people about all the extra stuff you get as an Orange customer. Why tell people when you can let them experience it for themselves in a way that's actually fun?' said Andy Whitlock, a senior creative strategist at the agency.