London Turns Subway Commuting Into a Game

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Regular commuters on London’s Underground rail network have now got a new incentive for keeping their journeys short: a social network that turns the Tube into a game.

It’s called Chromaroma, and it’s easy to play.

Pretty much everyone in London already has an Oyster card – an RFID-enabled smart card that they can top up with credit, and use to travel anywhere by Tube or bus. It’s the cheapest and most convenient way of getting around.

Now the people in charge of Oyster have opened up access to travel data, and Chromaroma is a result.

When you sign up, you can choose whether to join the Red, Green, Blue or Yellow team. Your team gets points for swiping Oyster cards at Tube stations. Swipes mean points, and points mean rewards. Teams can win and lose ownership of stations.

Regular players might even be tempted to break one of the Tube’s greatest taboos, and talk to strangers on trains, in the hope of recruiting new members for their team. You never know.

There’s much more to it than that, though. Delve deeper and you’ll find time trials, extra missions (for your team or just for you) as well as incentives for taking healthy options like walking some of the way instead.

Could Chromaroma change the way Londoners commute? Possibly, but it’s going to need some co-operation from the city’s employers first. Saying “Sorry I’m late, I had to check in for my Chromaroma points,” probably isn’t going to go down well as an excuse for being late for work. Unless your boss plays the game too, of course…