Casual Encounters the Game

August 12 2011

This past weekend, I took part in an event at Eyebeam called the Art Hack Weekend. We ended up making a game based on the Craigslist category, "Casual Encounters." You can play it here!

I went into the weekend thinking that I would just help out with a project that I found interesting, but instead I made the mistake of telling some people about an incredibly stupid idea Cass and I had (we tend to do that -- ask me to tell you about Magnum Map some time if I haven't already) to make a bar game out of postings from the Craigslist section, "Casual Encounters." If you've never been to that section, congratulations. As the title suggests, it's a place for people to meet others who want to have casual sexual encounters. It's split up into sections like "m4w" (man for woman), "w4w" (woman for woman), t4m (transexual for male), etc. If you dig a little deeper, you even find categories like "mw4w". But the most important part is: people tend to post extremely explicit images, presumably of themselves "showcasing their wares", so to speak.

The idea was somewhat inspired by the game called "Erotic Photohunt" that you find on these arcade machines in bars called "Megatouch". If you are around my age and sometimes go to dive bars, I guarantee that you've seen one of them before.

So Cass and I were trying to figure out how to "gameify" Casual Encounters. At first we were amused by the idea of "Casual Encounters Roulette", in which you would spin some kind of wheel that showed several pictures from Craigslist and whichever picture it landed on, your info would automatically be sent to the person who posted it. But we decided that that was too mean/risky. What we came up with was simple: you are confronted with an image from casual encounters and the titles of 3 posts. The photo came from one of the posts. You have to guess which one.

So I told Kaho Abe and Amelia Marzec about this idea, and surprisingly, they liked it. Soon, Aaron Meyers and Jon Cohrs joined in and we had an awesome team. I ended up being in charge of the API that scraped Craigslist, Kaho, Jon, and Amelia made a great physical interface with these big buttons (I'll dig up some pictures eventually), and Aaron made the JavaScript front-end.

Below are some ("curated") screenshots from the game. But feel free to play yourself!

As per the rules of the Art Hack Weekend, the source is also available on Github.