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Life Is A Datacoaster

I do not know if you ever played Rollercoaster Tycoon. If you have never ever played it, it may sound odd to transform a recreational fun in the real world into a computer game, when the most fun part is being physically shaken while you dash down, scream and expect to die. Strangely enough – it works. It is a total different experience. But it is worthwhile. Maybe because of the god-like-approach. Build a digital rollercoaster that will make people scream. Combine extreme building components as long as applied physics allow you to. Do things you would not dare to do in real life. For instance by intentionally forgetting the final parts of your rollercoaster. It could look like that…

Okay. That is the Gartner Hype Cycle – an overused chart. But – it could as well be – a not-yet finished-coaster. What about adding another chart to continue building something like a datacoaster?! That could be fun and that could teach about certain sets of data on the go. Maybe you can ride the Dow Jones when you choose and combine clever chunks of data. The Vancouver BC Real Estate Market is okay for a start. Unfortunately it is not yet playable. It was created using

It would be interesting to play around with certain sets of data and a simple physics engine. Is that enough for a game? Could that lead to a datacoaster-framework? Would that at all make sense and provide useful interactive content for a news-app?


Just to add some contextual reading material. Nick Diakopoulos has written about Playable Data here proposing the term game-y information graphics which take raw datasets from sources … and create playable visualizations by adding elements of goals, rules, rewards, and mechanics of play… Interested readers can see the paper for all of the details.

This makes sense if you look at current infographic framework trends (AVE, Dipity, Tiki-Toki) that do or do not look shiny but forget about interaction, immersion and experience. More on game mechanics for a start at Lost Garden.

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  1. Marcus

    hi nick,

    thanks for your comment! I did not know solipskier before. It is great fun!

    i personally think that apart from that – a game mechanic should be chosen wisely to provide real insight on the go. skiing might be a bit too hectic to get away with proper infos. building a rollercoaster could provide that with the finished datacoaster and a ride (changing from 2d to 3d optics) as some sort of reward.

    On the other hand there are quite a bunch of ideas how to adapt the ski-ing idea. what i think of now is either a data-themepark with lots of datacoasters or some sort of “data games” – summer and winter and california version ;)

    either way around – gaming real data ought to be real fun too….

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