YouTube has launched a new "video" today to celebrate and advertise the Chrome browser, which recently became the third-most-popular browser in the United States. One of the reasons it's so popular is its speed, and this video attempts to celebrate that attribute.
The piece is called "Chrome FastBall." It's really more of a game than a video–this is not the standard YouTube player, but a Flash piece that is part-video, part-game. At first it appears to be a standard video of a cute little Rube Goldberg device. But then every few seconds the video stops, splits itself in two, and little puzzles and tasks emerge in the center for the viewer to perform before the video can continue. The goal is to be as quick as possible, to help the ball get to the end in record time… they want you to be "Chrome-fast."
It is one of the coolest things I've ever seen on YouTube, and the most creative ad-posing-as-a-video since the Nintendo Wario Land Shake It spot a couple years back. I would stop what you're doing and go watch/play this thing right now… you won't regret it.
But for the non-adventurous among you, I'll give a brief description–with screenshots!
The first task involves finding the fastest route from one spot on a Google Map to another (by bike, by car, or by foot). I've seen at least three different variations on this question in subsequent trips through the game, and the answer isn't always the same thing.
The second is a trivia question that you have to "Tweet" the answer to. This question hasn't changed in my multiple times playing the game.
The third puzzle requires you to use Google translate to figure out what language the presented sentence is in. This question/answer has been different for me every single time.
Then you're presented with a Scrabble-like set of tiled letters that spell out "bridge," and you have to come up with a musical artist whose name begins with each letter–this section is sponsored by LastFM. Actually, it's not clear if LastFM and Twitter are sponsors, or just being referenced by YouTube.
Finally, you have to perform three Google searches for terms that have progressively smaller numbers of results. So if you search for "America" and get millions of results, your next query needs to have fewer results than that… and so on and so forth.
And yes… I searched first for "billy mays" and then "beyond thunderdome"… that's just the way my mind works.
When you've completed all the puzzles and tasks, the ball finally reaches the end of the Rube Goldberg device, and you're given a score based on how long the game took you–and your score is placed on a scale between "Not Fast" and "Chrome Fast."
The whole thing is just insanely cute, clever, playful, and fun. I'm beyond impressed. The only hangup for me is that this type of thing is not something regular YouTube users can create. This isn't an actual YouTube player, for instance, (wish I could embed it) but is a custom Flash page that is made up to look like a video. You would need special permission and cooperation from YouTube to get something like this done. Chrome, being a Google product, has an inside track.
My score was over 14 minutes on the first go–mostly because I kept stopping to gawk and stare and marvel at the ingenuity of it all. It was quickly improved on the second time through to a very respectable 2:09… which is "Chrome Fast" they tell me.
My only real regrets here, beyond the fact that average users can't create this kind of thing, is the fact that this isn't a real video player, we can't get embed code or find actual view counts. But I'm sure it'll be viewed/played thousands–if not millions–of times. Heck, I may play it a million times myself. Kudos to Google, and the Chrome and YouTube teams that helped conceive of and build this thing… it's amazing, and sure to create exactly the buzz they were looking for.