T-REX HI-2150 NO INTERNET

The title of this note refers to three elements that I took from the Google Chrome dinosaur game. The dinosaur itself (T-REX), the high score of that game (2150), and the connection status of my laptop (No Internet).

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By John Barragán. Published: July 30, 2021.

It all started one afternoon in March of this year at the Datasketch House through a casual conversation with a team member (the best things I’ve ever known have come from informal communications, by the way). We just crossed a couple of words about the “dinosaur game” and the possibility of doing some “visualization” of the digital divides in our contexts through this game, which, incidentally, is very likely that anyone has ever played. In short, the idea was hers, not mine. I only came to make an invitation to play and think about T-REX HI-2150 NO INTERNET.

T-REX only requires a cell phone, a laptop, or tablet, and no internet connection. With these two elements, you can start. Are you up for it? You can play online at chrome://dino/, but I don’t recommend it (connection delays will make you lose).

The game is a kind of Mario Bros, but with a Tyrannosaurus Rex (T-REX) as the main character. The context is the animated Jurassic, in the desert and with Pteranodon (like birds) on the road, which you dodge by jumping with the up arrow on the keyboard or ducking with the down arrow. You can’t speed up or stop. You have to jump, weave or die.

The scenario starts with a crescent phase moon. Then, as you advance and continue without internet connection, it goes to a waxing quarter, full moon, waning, and waning quarter, and the cycle begins again. In physical space, this lunar cycle takes about a month: a month without internet connection in digital space, if all goes well.

According to an interview on September 6, 2014, with the game creators, the popularity at that time was 270 million games played per month! Mainly in Brazil, Mexico, and Indonesia. I wonder: what figures will we have for Latin America now in the pandemic? How can we visualize these figures?

Anyway, playing T-REX can be challenging in two ways. First, it can motivate us to play and reach the top score. That is, we can compete, learn, and improve in the game. Second, it can challenge us to think about the disconnection figures that will allow the game to become more and more popular and, with that, the digital divide will become bigger and bigger.

For the first step, if the goal is to have the highest score, you can hack the T-REX to never die. With some code, you can do it through the instructions given in this link (es). However, the latter needs to start the search for information, get open data of connection gaps in Latin America, and start the visualization and hacking of the gap. If only it were as easy as getting the highest score.