Grr-Grr-Bike is a smartphone game where you guide a bike rider through the city, avoiding on-coming vehicles, car doors and other obstacles. You need to stop at red lights and for pedestrians crossing the street. You’re also being chased by a dog – that’s where the name comes from! The goal is to get as far along the street and pick-up as many coins as possible. See the game on YouTube!
The game teaches players a little about urban bike riding, but is designed mainly to encourage players to get involved in local bike planning and advocacy. It does this by presenting a short information message in the results screen about local bike issues or safety tips (with links for more information).
Grr-Grr-Bike’s results screen includes a link taking you to a page with information from your local bike group on local events, activities, projects that need support and information on getting involved.
The goal is to broaden political support for bike projects and programs by exposing smartphone game players to local bike advocacy groups. Since many smartphone game players are young this would be a great opportunity for local advocacy groups to increase their membership and energy.
Political Support is the Missing Link
We know how to make bicycling safer and more attractive. We know how to create cities where bicycling is the preferred mode of transport. Why aren’t we doing it?
Political support is the critical missing link. Grr-Grr-Bike is designed to increase political support for bike projects by connecting players with local bike projects and advocacy groups. Clicking on a link in the game’s results screen takes you to a page with information from your local bike group on events, projects to support and activities.
Grr-Grr-Bike will increase political power by introducing a new group of people to bicycle advocacy: people who enjoy playing mobile phone games, but don’t know how to get involved in supporting local bike projects and organisations.
What are the next steps?
The Grr-Grr-Bike prototype game was completed in 2013. A usability and design study was completed as part of a game design course at the Technical University of Vienna. Some of the changes recommended included:
- Usability and educational improvements (e.g., we want to discourage people from riding on the sidewalk – but that’s not clear in the prototype!);
- Adding “in-app” purchases (e.g. faster bikes) to help fund game maintenance and to provide funds for local bike groups;
- Developing customised versions with street scenes from different cities and different obstacles, perhaps a Viennese coffeehouse waiter crossing the street with a Melange and glass of water delicately balanced on his tray?
In 2015 an improved version of the full concept was developed for the Ringstrasse150 Project.
A technical paper documenting recommendations from the usability study and using games in transport is available at:
Using Online Games in Transport: Grr-Grr-Bike Case Study – Nash, Andrew, Peter Purgathofer, Fares Kayali; US Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting 2014.