Fed Ex as a game engine

This is the delivery schedule I got this morning from Amazon.  I’m waiting for a pair of headphones.  As you can see, these are “out for delivery” and should arrive today.

I looked at this and thought, “but surely there’s a game waiting to happen here.”  It would take a detailed knowledge of Amazon delivery routes and membership in Amazon’s “free delivery” club, but it should be possible to game the system.  (I should leave this to the likes of Kevin Slavin and Jamin Warren, but lets see how far I can get on my own.)

Using FedEx as a game engine opens several possibilities.  For instance, we would see how close we could come to making two packages pass in transit.  Could we make two packages run through Maspeth, New York at the same time?

Here’s what we know:

1) The system is out there and moving packages in any case.

2) We can discover where a package was at any given moment.

3) We can use this data to work the delivery system.

4) This mechanical system could be used for some other purpose.  We can set objectives and competitions.  

This is a culturematic in the spirit of Bill Winkenbach’s Fantasy sports invention.  Bill said, look, the NFL throws off all this data.  Let’s use it for another purpose.  Let’s use to create an alternate sports reality.  

So working the system as a system is really just the beginning.  We could treat packages as game pieces on a chess board.  We could treat them as balls in a pinball machine.  We could set up one of those flash boards that pinball machines have and run up numbers as someone succeeds in sending a package to Maspeth, then Hartford.  Oh, damn, he missed Stratford!

FedEx as a game engine.  That’s the idea, I think.  

2 thoughts on “Fed Ex as a game engine”

  1. Interesting idea!

    Whatever game you superimposed on it, collision detection would be a snap!

    It would be great if a limited amount of their tracking data for all packages was public.

    Just, say, all of the routing and location information (scheduled, destination, departed and arrived) and a unique ID.
    Then you could select from among the scheduled shipments and assign that shipment to any entity, rather
    than have to actually ship something yourself.

    I wonder if there is an analogous system, complete with the time and location uncertainty, that has public
    data.

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