The game that became a story.
JustPark are the AirBnB of car parking – if you’ve got a spare parking space, you can rent it out to drivers via the JustPark platform.
To increase their website’s visibility in the search engines, JustPark wanted to increase the number of links to their site.
And with a broad target audience and disruptive mindset, they were willing to have a little fun to make some noise online.
One day, while thinking about cars and driving, my colleague asked, “would you still pass your driving test if you sat it today?”
We’d recently had a viral hit with an incredibly simple game. And this got me thinking. What would the simplest version of the driving test be?
And that’s how we reached the idea for the Emergency Stop Game.
Typically, after we create a piece of content, we sell in the story to journalists and bloggers. However, selling in the story of a simple web game isn’t that easy.
Despite the fact our first game was featured on over 400 sites, we didn’t secure one piece of coverage manually – not one! All the coverage came as a result of it going hot on Facebook and Reddit. Which was great (and a relief!) but also provided an important lesson.
If we wanted top tier coverage for the Emergency Stop Game, we needed more of a story.
So we did some exploring to see which sites had written about reaction times previously. We discovered they tended to be loosely science-based.
We also discovered there’d been a bunch of scientific studies done to see which factors affect your reaction times. There were some obvious ones and some less obvious ones: your age, how much sleep you’ve had, how many units of alcohol you drink each week, how much caffeine you’ve consumed, and whether you’re left-handed or right-handed (left-handed people are faster apparently).
So we decided to recreate those tests by getting a sample of 2,000 people to play the game and record their score. And the stats it generated gave journalists more to write about.
A lot of media want to cover new content formats, especially interactive ones that will send lots of traffic their way, but they need a reason to do so.
So here’s how the game (and the story) unfolded:
After receiving some instructions, the game starts, and you’re driving along:
When the stop sign appears, you hit any key (or the screen) to stop:
Then based on our survey, the game guesses how old you are:
Think you can do better?
Here are a few of the headlines:
This quick driving game will tell you how old you are
What is YOUR driving age? Emergency stop game tests your reflexes on the road to reveal how ‘old’ a driver you are
How Close Is Your “Driving Age” To Your Real Age? Find Out With This Reactions Test
Within weeks, the Emergency Stop Game had received 250,000 Facebook likes, making it our fastest spreading viral hit. And it keeps growing. At the time of writing, it has 411,000 likes.
- Featured in The Sunday Times, The Daily Mail, The Telegraph, The Independent, The i100, The Huffington Post, The Metro, UniLad and IFL Science
- Linked to by 302 sites
- 411,000 likes
- 4.7 million visits
- Personally responsible for concept and executive creative direction
IFL Science sent more than half a million visits to the game in one day. I’m frequently amazed by the power of some online publishers to send huge volumes of traffic. I’ve previously seen Lifehacker send over 100,000 visits to What Career Is Right For Me, and the Huffington Post send over a million visits to the Vocal Ranges of The World’s Greatest Singers.
Previous experience with viral hits like these would suggest the Emergency Stop Game will receive a second wind at some point over the next year or two. And I would fully expect it to accumulate links from 500 to 1,000 sites in that time.