New arcade runner mobile game 'Macet ke Bioskop' takes its inspiration from Jakarta's notorious traffic gridlocks. (Photo courtesy of Film Nasional and Game Level One)

Grand Traffic Auto: Jakarta's Gridlocks Inspire New Mobile Game


JUNE 07, 2018

Jakarta. You've planned a movie date for tonight but you've been running behind schedule for the whole day and now you have to beat Jakarta's mad traffic to catch the movie – and your date – on time.

Bad news is you're still stuck in Ancol near the city's harbor and you'll have to navigate your way through notorious gridlock spots around Kota Tua (Jakarta’s Old Town) and the National Monument (Monas).

You're racing against time and the noisy bajaj (three-wheeled motorized rickshaws), rickety public buses, TransJakarta buses going along merrily on their special lanes and snail-paced cargo trucks are slowing – and weighing – you down.

Since Eid is near, there are also the extra seasonal obstacles of pick-up trucks filled with worshippers banging on a bedug (drum). They're happy enough to go it slowly, in mass delirium as they welcome the end of the fasting month. You, meanwhile, are in absolute torment.

Can you make it in time to the cinema and what could be the love of your life?

Lucky for you, that's just the gameplay for a new mobile game called "Macet Ke Bioskop," ("Stuck in Traffic on the Way to the Cinema"), which was launched on Thursday (31/05) at Union Metropolitan in Cilandak, South Jakarta.

Set on Jakarta’s streets and featuring many easily recognizable real-life elements – including motor bebek (scooters) and traffic policemen hiding in plain sight – Macet Ke Bioskop is an arcade runner game with a genuine local taste.

Just like in real life – or perhaps an idealized version of one – when you break any traffic rule, you will get a ticket from a policeman. If you have enough points, you can use them to pay the fine. If you don’t, your movie date is over, you have to start over.

The game is the brainchild of Film Nasional – an Instagram account created in 2014 to promote Indonesian films and talents – and game developer Game Level One.

Think Local

Film Nasional's creative director Elbert Lim told the Jakarta Globe they chose Game Level One to develop the game because of their experience in development and marketing.

Michael Elwin, game producer at Game Level One, said they started brainstorming the game late last year. Proper development started in January. It took them around five months to get a full version of the game up and running.

Before launching the game, the creators released trailers on social media, including YouTube, and held a beta test at Google’s Jakarta office on April 28.

"The gamers we invited were happy that the settings felt so local, so Jakarta, but many of them said the traffic wasn’t nearly bad enough," Michael said.

The current version has had some bug fixes and more cars and people on the streets, and hence, more realistic gridlocks.

So far the game only has three levels, but users should expect more in the future.

"Yes, there are just three levels but each level is divided into three segments. I think now it’s already pretty difficult to reach Level 3," Michael said.

Just like in many other games, there will also be seasonal updates for special occasions like New Year’s Eve, Halloween or Valentine’s Day.

Elbert said there will also be an online leaderboard for users, and the top winner each week will get a free film pass.

Celebs on Board

The main objective of the game is to reach the cinema on time, but along the way players can also accumulate points to unlock film and pop culture trivia, as well as collectible game vehicles, characters and skins.

Apart from original characters, the game will also feature characters from the 2015 film "Filosofi Kopi" ("Coffee Philosophy," based on the bestselling short story collection by Dee Lestari) and 2017's "Pertaruhan."

"There will be more characters from more films but we can’t reveal them yet," Film Nasional founder Denn Juan said.

Left to right, former JKT48 idol Cindy Gulla, gaming YouTuber Reggy 'MiawAug' Prabowo, film actress Michelle Ziudith and Film Nasional creative director Elbert Lim at the launch of 'Macet Ke Bioskop' at Union Metropolitan in Cilandak, South Jakarta, on Thursday (31/05). (Photo courtesy of Film Nasional)

A number of social media influencers are also featured in the game as cartoonized skins, including former idol group JKT48 member, now YouTuber Cindy Gulla, and gaming YouTuber Reggy Prabowo, better known by his username MiawAug.

Both praised the game for being "fun" and "riveting." Reggy said as an Indonesian he is proud to see more local games being produced these days, an improvement he said he's been seeing since 2013.

Reggy said he expects to see "other cities, not just Jakarta" in the game.

Film actress Michelle Ziudith is also set to have a game skin based on a character from one of her films soon.

"Michelle came out on top in a survey of our followers’s favorite actresses. She also likes gaming and often plays games when she’s filming," Denn said.

Old Gamers Welcome

Film Nasional and Game Level One are targeting moviegoers, gamers and commuters between 20 and 4o years old to play the game. Since Film Nasional’s Instagram followers are mostly 18- to 24-year-olds, Michael said they're planning to feature characters from old movies to attract older users.

He said Film Nasional occasionally hosts screenings of old films. He plans to use this program to introduce Macet Ke Bioskop to older audiences.

The game is currently Android-only. According to Elbert, an iOS version will be released in July during Bekraf Game Prime 2018, a gaming event held by the government's Creative Economy Agency.