Mazda Turns Movie Theaters Into A Massively Multiplayer Mobile Game

By now we all know that it’s safe to show up 20 minutes late for a movie because of the trailers and now-requisite reams of ads running before the actual show. If you’re really keen on nabbing a good seat and show up early, chances are there’s even a trivia game on the screen, so you can use your phone to match wits and pop culture prowess with the strangers around you.

Mazda and JWT Canada wanted to take that idea further to make that pre-film wait just a bit more fun. To help promote the new 2014 Mazda3, the brand and agency teamed with Cineplex’s Timeplay to create a social driving game that played in Toronto and Vancouver throughout November. The game utilized the smartphone’s accelerometer to allow movie goers at Cineplex theaters to take a virtual test drive and compete against their fellow film-goers.

The game is collaborative and competitive. Players use their phone to match the steering of the onscreen driver and gain points for accuracy, but the audience’s collective performance decides whether the hero car is leading the race or falling behind. The better the group drives, the better the hero car does. The phone’s accelerometer is measured every 200 milliseconds to see if a player is on the right path. If they are, they got bonus points. If not, their phone vibrates to help correct their steering.

JWT Canada Creative Director Brent Choi says the biggest creative challenge was keeping it simple. “We couldn’t give everyone their own car to drive, and we had to find a way to make a collaborative experience competitive,” he says. “We wanted to keep people focused on screen. At the end of the day, we removed more complex accelerometer controls like braking and acceleration to make this a simple experience.”

The agency hopes to boost the social engagement around the game with a final head-to-head race between Vancouver and Toronto audiences and reward the best driver with a big prize.