QR codes—the black-and-white, bar code-esque emblems found in magazine adverts and on blogs—aren’t good for much. The Atlantic recently chided the strange squares, calling them “the roller-skating horses of advertising.” Though they are meant to convey information to your smartphone via its camera, they have a startlingly low adoption rate. Alex Madrigal explains:
If you really wanted to know about a product that you saw in an ad, wouldn’t you rather type its name into Google on your phone and see what comes up? Is it really faster and better to use a QR code that will direct you to part of a marketing campaign rather than getting a broader sweep of information by simply using the browser?
While QR codes may not be the best way to be sold teeth-whitening strips or Chanel, it turns out they have a wonderful use within the world of gaming: exchanging user-created content online.
Enter Pushmo, a block-pushing puzzler by Nintendo for 3DS, which allows players to trade levels that look like Mario’s mushrooms, Nintendo’s President Iwata, and pixelated graphics from whatever old game you can imagine. The game’s concept is far from groundbreaking. When I tell people that the puzzles involve pushing and pulling blocks into 3D space, “Well, that’s obvious” is the typical response. But what Pushmo gets right is that it easily allows message boards and internet forums to be turned into swap meets for levels based on copyrighted material.
Since homemade levels are likely to be accurate portraits of Final Fantasy protagonist #39, copyright issues might arise. However, since the level isn’t hosted on Nintendo’s domain, but instead on any website of your choice, Nintendo handily sidesteps any liability.
Also, it’s just a fun way to exchange: scrolling through the net and commenting on others’ creations. Or typing “Pushmo” into Google images. If you see a level you’d like to play, all you have to do is hold your 3DS’s camera up to your computer screen. Then, point, and shoot.
So believe it or not, Nintendo has done something fairly innovative when it comes to the internet and QR codeseven if you are still pushing around blocks.