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Searching For Fun: Wikipedia Game

And a friendly octopus, too!

What you need to find on this site as you get into work in the morning is something that will distract you from working for the rest of the day, if not month. It’s the Wikipedia Game. You may have played it yourself in the past – especially if you’re a listener of the Collings & Herrin podcast, which set similar challenges a couple of years back. The idea is to get from one random subject to another in the fewest number of clicks. You can use any hyperlink on the page to get there (without editing your own in). And now it’s been automated at WikipediaGame.org. You can play anonymously, or create an account for score bragging, and then compete in 150 second challenges to get between the two subjects in the fewest clicks. The scores appear in a the box on the left of the screen. Right, good luck getting anything done.

There are some flaws. It would be lovely for scores to be persistent, rather than vanishing the moment the game is over. Perhaps a league table, or at least something that records your best paths, top wins, etc. It appears to credit winning ranks by time, rather than fewest links, and doesn’t order the list into winners at the top. But then, because these are so transient there’s little motivation to beat others, beyond the satisfaction of having made it. Also, the chat box doesn’t require registration, so it is of course just a screaming noise of spam.

But then there’s lovely details, like being able to see the click path others who have completed a round had taken. Plus there’s the sheer idiotic pleasure of getting from Super Bowl XXXIX to Fred Astaire. And because everyone’s playing the same game, you can compete directly with friends, shouting about how you are best in an IM window. Not that I’d do that. Never.

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John Walker

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