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Friday Philosophy – New Game: Phone Zombies! (You Too can Play) August 17, 2012

Posted by mwidlake in Friday Philosophy, humour, off-topic, Perceptions.
Tags: , ,

I’m spending a lot more time in Central London at the moment due to current work commitments. A few weeks ago I was having a quiet stroll through the streets and had what I can only describe as an odd moment:

I looked around and found I was being converged upon by 5 or 6 people walking slowly and aimlessly towards me – all from different angles, all only vaguely aware of their surroundings, all looking like they were making straight for me. I instantly thought of one of the scenes from “Shaun of the Dead” {A cracking film, go hire it tonight}.

They were all on their smart phones of course, intent on the little glowing screens of whatever it was they could not drag their eyes from – despite them also trying to navigate a busy city landscape. As some of you know, I have a bit of a “hate-mild dislike-grudging acceptance” relationships with Smart Phones.

I was so struck by this scene that I nearly did not move in time, but finally I did step to one side as I watched them do this quite wonderful, little, shuffling-dance around each other. I think only one of them actually looked up properly, the others all did that micro-glance; frown; direction shift; re-engage-with-screen procedure that is becoming so common. As a species we must be somehow pre-designed to cope with this as none of them actually bumped into each other – but it took several micro-glance manoeuvres for some of them to make it through.

This has resulted in a new game I can’t stop playing as I make my way through London:

Phone Zombies – How many people can I see at any time who are effectively lobotomised by their personal electronic device?

I have a few rules:

  • I has to be an electronic device – phones, smart phones, crackberries, tablets, electronic books etc.
  • Real books and papers do not count.
  • They must be upright (so no sitting).
  • If they are moving they count.
  • If they are stopped in the middle of the path they count.
  • If they have put themselves in a doorway or some other sensible place they do not count.
  • Unless, even though they have done that, they are still e.g. blocking ingress and egress from the doorway.
  • A bonus point if they micro-glance manoeuvre.
  • 5 bonus points if contact is made with another person in the time I am watching.
  • 10 bonus points for contact with something inanimate {only once to date}.
  • 20 points if they go “uuurrrgggghhh” and have blood on them. {no one has got 20 bonus points yet, but I live in hope}

I think my best so far is about 14, but that is because two phone-zombies both walked into each other. Classic.



1. Douglas - August 17, 2012
mwidlake - August 17, 2012

Ohhh!!! 50 points – but let’s make it “eaten by a large mammal”

2. jamierhawkins - August 17, 2012

Blergh…ungh…..glargh…..urrrgel……Uuugh….. *TRANSLATION* – Being a self confessed Smart Phone Zombie I have walked into a variety of stationary objects on numerous occasions (parked cars, lampposts, kerbs, trees and, once, a large plastic ice cream) and have yet to master the micro-glance manoeuvre. In fact, such is the extent of my zombie state, that I have walked into the very same lamppost whilst travelling the same route on at least 7 separate occasions …but what disturbs me the most about these collisions is the fact that, more often than not, I will mumble an apology before realising that what I have just walked into is not actually a living person… Fortunately (?!), I have broken my leg and am now confined to a sitting position for a couple of months thus saving myself (further) injury and embarrassment… and no, I didn’t break my leg whilst in a zombie state…I did it on a childs playground swing which involves a whole new level of stupidity altogether…

…Great post Dude…it made me chuckle…a lot…xD

mwidlake - August 17, 2012

Very funny 🙂

I do have memories of getting stuck in a child’s swing many years ago – it was one of those where the child’s leg go through some bars and another one rests on top to stop them falling it. It works on very drunk students too, even ones as small as I was then.

I hope you heal swiftly – and remember to look up more from your Smart Phone

3. Michael Cox - August 17, 2012


Love the idea but this seems to rely on a level of mental arithmetic, any chance you could develop it as a smartphone app ? 8)

mwidlake - August 17, 2012

Yeah, you could take a snap and it would somehow recognise Phone Zombies and pop up a score – though to really work it would need to analysing moving images to catch the collisions. I used to know some image processing dudes…

4. jgarry - August 17, 2012
5. Kelloggsville - August 17, 2012

Sorry? I’m confused. Are you saying that whilst Im doing important stuff on my phone there are other people in the world? Although I do admit to knowing there is a metal post thing going on…or so the straight line bruise on my forehead told me (absolutely true).

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