Amsterdam commuters are playing their own augmented reality game that doesn’t require a phone

Parts of the world are going crazy trying to catch Pokémon through their phone with augmented reality game Pokémon Go. But that doesn’t mean you need to run around town staring at your phone chasing digital creatures to see some much-needed magic in the world.

Daniel Disselkoen, a digital artist with Rotterdam-based creative agency Headmade, used Gemeentelijk Vervoers Bedrijf (GVB), the municipal transportation company of Amsterdam, to bring a low-tech, analog augmented reality game to commuters on their way to work called GVBeestje (literally, GV little beast).

GVBeestie is essentially just a sticker depicting—well—a blue crocodile (or is it an alligator? A shark with four legs?), stuck on the window of a public bus. Another sticker has the rules of the game: the rider needs to align their eyes so that the shark’s mouth “eats” the passersby. You get a point (+) for every head you eat, and lose one (-) for every one you miss.

Rules of the game. (Image courtesy of Daniel Disselkoen)

Disselkoen said he started looking for ways to improve the commuter experience five years ago, while he was a commuter spending much time looking at his phone. “I thought about this imaginative game I used to play with a speck on the window in the backseat of my parents’ car, to make the long journey more enjoyable,” he said.

He started experimenting with a couple of stickers. “Every day I would travel just witnessing other passengers bopping their heads up and down,” he remembers. He then knew he wanted to try the experiment on a larger scale.

It’s really fun, and people have been playing for a couple of weeks now.

Players are then encouraged to share their score online, with #GVBeestje.

GVBeestje are meant to be on trams the whole summer, but they are leaving already: “people enjoy the game so much that they take the stickers off the tram-window and put them up in other places,” Disselkoen said. “To be honest, I find it absolutely stunning,” he added.

Disselkoen he;s getting requests to export the game everywhere from America to Asia, but not plans are set yet. And while he didn’t plan the GVBeestje as competition to Pokémon Go, he’s “pretty proud that our paper Beestje is the antagonist of Pokémon Go in Amsterdam”

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