Freefall Highscore
2011 | James George
Commissioned by Vice & Intel's Creators Project

Freefall Highscore is a smartphone application that undermines the very thing that we expect apps to do - work for us.

The object of the game is to drop your phone-the multi-hundred-dollar piece of metal and plastic that has become our constant companion, secretary, and babysitter-and drop it as far as you possibly can without breaking it. Freefall Highscore asks you to challenge your own materialism and dependence on technology by risking the destruction of something dear to you. It's up to you to make sure your phone (and your dignity) survives. 

If your phone survives an epic fall, the reward isn't just an adrenaline rush. The player-created protective case becomes a performative sculpture. The acrophobic videos shot by the app during the fall are trophies, proof that players took a risk and pulled it off. These videos are uploaded to YouTube and shared to the internet at large; the chance to go viral by leaning out a twentieth story window only eggs players on. 

Sound scary? It is, but it's also fun. The app has all the markings of a normal game. But this one actually works against its players, adding anxiety to excitement and physical danger to a platform that is usually totally virtual - phones are going to break. The better you play, the more real the danger becomes. 

There are no extra lives in Freefall Highscore. When you lose, game over is permanent. 

- Kyle Chayka 

The App
Designed to feel like an authentic mobile game where the real world is the interface, Freefall Highscore keeps the video camera always rolling in the background. Once the player hits 'drop' they have 20 seconds to free the device from the effects of gravity. The accelerometer determines the start and end of the fall and cuts the video as soon as it's back on Earth. The fall duration is attached to the video and submitted as the game entry through the user's own YouTube account.  

A website collects the submissions,  featuring the longest drops on the leader board.


To celebrate the release of our app we were supported by The Creators Project to produce an exhibition. We held a contest for the public to create clever ways of protecting phones during freefall (think of it as a high-stakes middle school egg drop contest). We picked 6 entries from the submissions. They were each awarded a brand new iPod Touch on the condition that the contestant drop their new device off of a 7 story building inside of the preserver they designed. We held a drop event prior to the exhibition and showcased the results.


Creators Project Exhibiton - Brooklyn, NY 2011

James George: Concept, direction

Logan Best: Web Development
Michael Zick Doherty: Android Development                  
Helen Mair: Graphic Design, Exhibition Design
Maria Mendez: iOS Development
Caitlin Morris: Exhibition Design
Juan Muller: iOS and Web Development

Freefall Highscore production supported by The Creators Project and Eyebeam.