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November 21, 2014 9:06 pm

explore middle earth

As part of the promotion for the upcoming third installment in The Hobbit trilogy, Google has unveiled an experiment to allow Chrome users to explore Middle Earth the way they might explore Google maps. It is designed to be a 3d gaming experience, playable on web browsers phones and tablets. Here is the trailer:

It’s an interesting idea, with some potential, but I found it somewhat disappointing that the locations are not 3d environments, but simple and rather unsatisfying minigames. I would have much preferred the opportunity to explore at my own pace the environments that we know from the movies. That aside, its an interesting experiment, and I suspect that it won’t be the last time that we see something like this from Google.

Explore Middle Earth here:

September 17, 2012 10:11 pm

bacon number

six degress of Kevin BaconWhen I was taking  A-levels, my  media studies teacher introduced us to a game called the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. The basic principal (based on the six degrees of separation concept) was to pick any actor, and to try to get back to Kevin Bacon within 6 moves

For example: Steve Buschemi

Steve Buschemi was in Reservoir Dogs with Chris Penn, who was in Footloose with Kevin Bacon — 2 moves.

Why Kevin Bacon? Well, the game was created by Craig Fass, Brian Turtle and Mike Ginelli (who also wrote the book, pictured), who wrote in to The Jon Stewart Show, explaining that they had realized “that Kevin Bacon was the centre of the entertainment universe.” Whether or not that is the case, Bacon has certainly been in a lot of films with a lot of different actors, and so is well placed to be the centre of such a game.

I was introduced to the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game at the height of my movie-watching youth. It was in the days when I had an encyclopaedic knowledge of contemporary Hollywood films, their actors and directors. Consequently, I ruled at this game. I could find a connection for almost anyone.

Today, my knowledge of actors has waned, and I am no longer the  Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon titan that I once was. But fortunately, Google has come to my rescue. They have added the ‘bacon number’ feature to their search engine. Just type the name of an actor, followed by ‘bacon number’, and Google will tell you how many degrees of separation they are from Kevin Bacon. Genius.

Some people might suggest that this has taken the fun out of the game. It’s probably a fair point, but it has unwittingly created a new game – what’s the highest bacon number you can find? The search engine is so good, I am yet to see an actor with a Bacon number higher than 3. Even Edward G. Robinson and Marlene Dietrich only have a bacon number of 2, as does Barak Obama, suprisingly.

So, as with pretty much everything in this world, the internet has changed a simple, if somewhat nerdy, game from my youth. But a game, of sorts, it remains. I wonder today’s movie-obsessed teenagers will play it with the tenacity that I used to.