Google's Latest Experiment: The World Wide Maze
March 22, 2013

Google’s Latest Experiment: The World Wide Maze

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Say what you will about Google, but they make some really cool stuff from time to time.

That´s not to say everything they do is a hit. For every interactive Doodle (remember the day everyone played Pac-Man on the web for hours?) there´s a “Sketchbot,” an experiment which allowed people to take a picture with a webcam and have a robot in London draw their face in the sand.

They´re most recent experiment, however, more than makes up for some of their lamer attempts.

World Wide Maze transforms the whole of the Internet into a labyrinth-like tilt game. What really makes this game magical is the interaction between a computer and a mobile device. World Wide Maze uses a mobile phone (yes, even an iPhone) as a controller.

The game can only be played on Google software, however, so Chrome must be installed on both devices.

The mobile device can be synced either through Google´s TabSync feature or through a specific six-digit code displayed by the PC version of Chrome. You can also sync your device by scanning a QR code.

Once the devices are working in harmony, World Wide Maze asks you to pick a Web site which you would like to Maze-ify. Chrome then turns this Web site into a 3D maze, complete with multiple levels and layers. When I tested this game with, Chrome split the site into six or more different layers to navigate through.

The point of the game is to navigate your metallic ball through the maze while picking up little blue orbs of light. You use your phone as a gesture-based controller, tilting your phone to guide your metallic sphere through the maze. Using the “Power” and “Jump” button, you can guide your way through your favorite Web site.

I tried this game on an iPhone 5 and MacBook Pro and had no problem connecting the two devices or playing the game, though there have been several people complaining about the game crashing their browsers.

World Wide Maze probably isn´t a game you´ll spend hours playing, but the ability to control a game over the web with your smartphone is very cool. Once you complete the maze, you´ll be able to enter your high score and share it with the world. I, unfortunately neither finished nor earned any score which anyone would call “high.”

Though I had no issues connecting and playing the game, I did experience a very common side effect of using Chrome: terrible battery life.

In the five to ten minutes I spent playing the game I saw my battery drop by more than 30 percent. I´m used to Chrome destroying my battery life, but it´s something worth noting in case you get lost in the game and forget that you also have real work to do.

This is a very cool experiment and hopefully a glimpse into the future of online gaming. Try it today, but be sure you´re running compatible hardware.

World Wide Maze will run on nearly every modern computer and requires 1GB of RAM and at least a 256MB graphics card. You´ll also want to make sure you´re running Chrome. Like all other Google Experiments, World Wide Maze will not run in Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari.