Today, I sat alone in my house on my phone, catching, stamping, and releasing virtual paper airplanes with over 150,000 people from all over the world. I was alone, but I felt part of such a large, positive community.
Created by Active Theory in celebration of Peace Day at Google’s I/O 2016 conference, Paper Planes is a mobile and desktop-based browser game that allows its users to catch and throw paper airplanes that have “traveled” all over the world. Once caught, you are invited to leave a stamp on the plane with your location and usually a cutesy cartoon character, you then fold the paper back into its aerodynamic shape, and send it back on its way across the planet for someone else to discover and enjoy.
It’s endearing and communal. It might be fabricated, but it gave me a sense of camaraderie with over 100,000 people I have no chance of seeing. Knowing I had interacted with people from far off places like Italy and Germany, as well as cities as close as Detroit, Michigan, was a bizarre sensation, as if we all decided to go outside and play at the same time.
It’d be nice to see Paper Planes live on, to check on it in a few months and still see over 100,00 people playing together, throwing something as menial as paper airplanes to and fro, leaving notes for each other. Perhaps I’m romanticizing it a bit too much, but a few days after watching the recent Presidential Debate—especially as an American citizen—Paper Planes left me with just enough of a sense that people can still come together, albeit anonymously, to enjoy time together, to share with one another.
To play Paper Planes, click the link.