At what point is a Google Doodle no longer a doodle? Not that I’m one to go pinning labels on everything like a particularly fastidious sales assistant, but “when it’s a fully-functional video-game”, seems like an appropriate cut-off point. I’m fairly sure you can’t doodle mathematics, although the world might admittedly be a lot more fun if you could. Imagine if Einsten's equation for mass-energy equivalence was E= picture of a cat plus a smiley-face squared.
Anyway, head over to the Google homepage today and you can play the Great Ghoul Duel, which is a team-based multiplayer game about ghosts collecting spirits. Appearing on a (presumably haunted) server with random spectres from the Internet, you and your ghostly buddies must collect more spirits than the other team before the timer runs out.
Where things get interesting is each spirit you collect is added to an ever growing line of spirits that trail behind you, and at any point a ghost from the rival team can swoop in and take possession of all your spirits. Hence, there’s a nice sprinkling of mechanical tension between collecting as many spirits as you can before returning to your base, and avoiding having them cheekily swept up by an opponent. You can immediately steal them back of course, which makes for some amusing tit-for-tat exchanges.
It’s a little bit like a multiplayer version of Snake. It’s not cavernously deep, but it’s a more enjoyable way to interact with Internet folk over your lunch break than gazing into the black chasm of Twitter. Check it out here.