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Journeys, The Virtual World As Mashup

I’m terribly delinquent, but nearly two weeks ago I met with Guy Bendov and Assaf Priel, co-founders of the Tel-Aviv, Israel-based Journeys, an upcoming virtual world with a lot of promise. The game, which should roll out sometime this summer, is premised on traveling around the world, meeting friends, and sharing travelogues. Think of it as a kind of cross between the map-based travel sequences in Indiana Jones and your post-graduate romp through Europe. (My description, not the company’s.)

Bendov and co. aren’t ready to release screens just yet, but I have a feeling postcards like this one may be in the promotional plan. What I found particularly interesting is the way Journeys effectively mashes up some big trends and technologies – the new fascination with digital maps like Map Quest or Google (GOOG) Earth, the whole GPS craze, and the boom in travel – that people play with out of natural curiosity or pre-vacation distraction. These trends aren’t games but they have game elements, which could help Journeys gain traction with a more casual type of user that may be otherwise put off by the hardcore Second Life type of worlds or the cartoony, kid-friendliness of a Habbo. It remains to be seen how the final product will turn out, of course, but at the moment it looks like the fundamentals are there.