As someone from the video game generation, I have played my share of games. Back in the 1980’s, games were very binary with only a few colors on the screen. But, there I would find myself, staring at the screen for hours. Games progressed over the years and the consoles and graphics got better. Now games seem to incorporate the real world around you by using cameras on your cell phones and GPS location.
Very recently, I started driving for a ride-share company. Right from the start, I began to notice similarities between these new augmented reality video games and my driving app. The app shows an actual map, and when a ride request comes up, the phone screen lights up pink with the person’s name and a 10 second timer to accept the ride. The experience is absolutely exhilarating. From the moment the request comes in, there is a sense that you are playing a level in a game and that there is a goal to accomplish. My adrenaline pumps the entire time I’m driving.
Technically, the app software itself resembles a role-playing game. You have a profile that shows you stats like earnings, distance, time driven, miles, power zones, prime time, and peak areas. The map feature is constantly lighting up pink to dark pink to show where the heaviest requests are. If you didn’t realize that these places correspond with places in the real world, then you would probably think that you are actually playing a game. So similar to role-playing games, if you don’t accept a ride request, then you receive a negative on your acceptance rate. This is just like losing health in a game. Also, your ultimate score comes at the end of every ride when you receive payment for the trip.
The one scarier similarity to me is that there is an inherent addictive nature to the ride-sharing app. It reminds me of the same level of addiction I feel to certain video games when I play them. It feels as though when you are driving that you just want to keep going. Like you just want to get that one more ride before calling it a night. Only to find yourself giving five more rides. Just like in a video game where you keep playing telling yourself only one more level, just one more. Then the next thing you know is that the sun is coming up, you played all night, and you have to get to work!