It's highly likely that you've spent countless school days, work meetings, and beach hangouts casually scribbling games of tic-tac-toe. It's highly unlikely that you've ever played it like this.
A new app called Tic-Tac-Go mixes tic-tac-toe with city hopping, check-ins, and photo sharing to provide a fun and unique take on the classic game. It's a location-based scavenger hunt, where success requires branching out a finding new spots.
Starting up a game of Tic-Tac-Go is easy. You can challenge friends, culled from Facebook buddies, contacts, and friends made through the game – or you can just pick a random opponent and go.
The gameplay is also easy – but easy doesn't necessarily mean simple. Sure, it's tic-tac-toe – one of the most elementary games in the world. But Tic-Tac-Go's gameplay takes this intrinsically single-faceted game and gives it depth. By adding a location-based element to the game, Tic-Tac-Go is able to turn tic-tac-toe into a scavenger hunt.
The game board is populated with locations, either specific types of locations like 'a salon' or 'a sushi restaurant' or more general locations like 'starts with the letter N'. In order to mark a space with your X or your O, you must check in to a location that satisfies the requirement.
Thinking about lying? Don't. Tic-Tac-Go wants proof. If you want your check-in at your favorite sushi joint to count, you'll need to snap a photo of your glass of sake, or catch your buddy going to town on some spicy tuna rolls. By adding this photo element to the experience, Tic-Tac-Go is able to tap into a fast-growing trend in the most desired apps – real-time photo moments. It's like a gamified take on Facebook's Singshot or Snapchat Stories.
"While other platforms have attempted to capture where users have gone, Tic-Tac-Go places location-based social media in an entirely new context:peer-to-peer competition. Instead of just giving users a way of capturing and communicating where they were already going to go, TTG inspires users to go to new places by gameifying the world of check-ins. Suddenly, every day is a scavenger hunt and players are stepping out of their comfort zones while discovering new experiences that are often literally right around the corner," says its creators.
The "right around the corner" thing is important. Let's be honest – nobody is going to go miles and miles out of their way on an everyday basis. Location-based goals have to be challenging enough to be fun, but they also have to be attainable.
In my experience, I could think of nearby places that satisfied nearly every block in my game boards. Tic-Tac-Go does this by making sure the game boards are fair to both players. You and your opponent will only see locations with some commonality to your respective areas.
That way, a suburb-dweller from Iowa, playing someone who lives in Manhattan, won't be forced to check in at modern art museum.
Apart from just winning their games of tic-tac-toe, players can unlock badges (which has a fun old-school Foursquare feel) and get "likes" on their photos to see how high they can climb on the photo leaderboard. Checking in and nabbing squares also nets you points, which can in turn be used to snag "boosters" - which act like little in-game helpers. You can replace squares for a few hundred points, or cause chaos by throwing down a "hurricane" and switching up all the squares on the board.
Tic-Tac-Go is probably the most ambitious reimagining of tic-tac-toe that you're likely to come across. Though the actual game is the mechanism for all that follows, Tic-Tac-Go manages to tackle check-in gamification, auxiliary achievements (in the form of badges and photo likes), and a social element with its emphasis on photos.
Tic-Tac-Go is free and available to download right now in the App Store.