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SnagU impresses NYC crowds with addictive gameplay


With over 20 large-scale games to choose from over the course of three days, the first ever Come Out & Play Festival offered more gaming than one person alone could take in. With the help of some resident New Yorkers, however, I've compiled impressions of what can only be described as a mere sliver of the weekend's offerings.

SnagU, winner of Cisco Systems and mtvU's Digital Incubator Grant, is a photo-based scavenger hunt using camera phone technology. Players must take pictures matching selected keywords, and submit them via phone for review. I talked with Noelle Weaver, member of a local communications firm, who played SnagU casually over the course of the weekend. She credits her continued interest in the game to its lack of needed attention: "I love the idea that I can play no matter where I am," Noelle says, "be it the line at the DMV or just walking down the street."

Each time she sends in an image, a new keyword gets sent back to her phone. There is no rush for her to send in as many images as possible, as points are rewarded based on creativity, and not just on speed. The game also encourages unique interpretations of the keywords. The word 'eye,' for example, illicited both an image of someone's eye, and a doppler radar image depicting the eye of a storm.

While discussing the festival, Noelle and I casually investigated our surroundings, looking for a clever image to accompany her latest word: 'common.' "The cool thing about this game," she says, "and where I give kudos to the concept--is it really makes you open up your eyes and look at the world around you in completely new ways."

Players vote for the best pictures online, in order to determine rankings. A special version of SnagU was played over the three-day Come Out & Play Festival, with two winners determined at the event's conclusion. Both received iPod Nanos as prizes.

Even though Come Out & Play has ended, SnagU is an ongoing experience, and anyone with a camera phone can participate by signing up.

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