I’ve long felt that the humor of Google’s autocomplete engine hasn’t been harnessed to its full comedic potential — but that may have finally changed. I recently discovered Query, a Google autocomplete board game centered around the absurdity of predictive Google searches. While I can’t vouch for its quality just yet, it sure looks awesome.
The premise is similar to Balderdash, the classic board game where everybody makes up fake definitions to esoteric words and then tries to find the real meaning amongst the phonies. Query, which began as a Kickstarter, is more or less the same thing, but it centers around Google autocompletes instead of dictionary definitions. The game includes 600 phrases and their real-life autocompletes; in each round, users are given the beginning of a phrase and asked to create a plausible autocomplete. Whoever identifies the true autocomplete from the fake ones wins.
This is a brilliant 21st century twist to an old favorite. As we’ve previously noted, Google autocompletes are often patently absurd (“how come I’m dead” comes to mind as a particularly vexing one). There’s seems to be little rhyme or reason to them, and yet all of them, presumably, are based on actual things that people searched for. As such, they’re perfect fodder for Balderdash-style creativity.
I discovered the game, by the way, through an autocomplete experience of my own. Earlier this week, I was looking for that clip from Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion where Romy holds up her bulky mid-90s cell phone and proclaims, “If anyone needs to make a call, I’ve got a phone.” (Why was I looking for that clip, you ask? Why wouldn’t I be looking for that clip is the better question. It’s pure cinematic brilliance, as is the rest of that film.) So, I typed “if anyone nee”— and, before I could finish the word “needs,” Google knew exactly what I was looking for.
This was impressive, even by Google’s already impressive standards, so I tweeted about it. This prompted the makers of Query to reply and peddle their game on me, and while I was all ready to be irritated about this corporate intrusion into my tweeting, I went to the game’s website, and it actually looks rather brilliant. I haven’t played it yet, but I’m cautiously optimistic that this could be Balderdash for the Internet generation.