Virtual drug dealing will become a little more geo-aware with the impending release of Underworld, a new iPhone game waiting for approval for entry into Apple’s app store. Underworld, previously known as DrugLords, is the creation of a developer or developers I only know as a_steroids. The purpose of the game is to become the wealthiest drug dealer in your neighborhood by buying low and selling high (not by dipping into your drug stash of course), in a battle for supremacy with your friends.
The iPhone’s GPS ties the real-world location of participating players into the games narrative–kind of a location-based massively multiplayer online game, the authors claim. If is does gain acception into the app store, a_steroids says that it should be available before Christmas and will be free.
I really like the interactivity this application looks to offer and it’s likely I’ll get a kick out of the outrage it’ll create from anti-drug and parents’ groups. In fact, parentcenter.com already features an article questioning the ethics and values Underworld promotes. You can get an idea of their feelings from this excerpt:
“I have so many issues with the values expressed in this brief excerpt that I hardly know where to begin. I’m not sure which is the most offensive – the casual presentation of illegal drug sales as entertainment, the elevation of drug lords to celebrity status, or the clear message that the world revolves around money and power.”
Definitely a valid point, but I’m willing to overlook the ethical questions for a chance to see an innovative and interactive usage of GPS in action.
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