Stuck at a crosswalk in Germany? Play Pong with your friend or neighbor across the street

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A funny thing about living in city is that even though you’re physically living close to your neighbors, you don’t really spend that much time connecting with them. It’s the opposite of what you would think would happen, but it seems like whenever there are millions of people living right on top of one another, there are millions of ways to avoid actually having to make eye contact.

This is what makes this traffic light simulation in Germany so brilliant — it lets you play Pong with the person across the street from you while you wait to cross the street. As you can see in the video below, the premise is simple — wait for the light to switch to red and the game begins!

STREETPONG is a concept of urban interaction by Sandro Engel and Holger Michel, developed at the HAWK Hildesheim, Faculty of Art. It is a simulation, not a permanent installation.

You can also watch the video on YouTube.

Comments on Stuck at a crosswalk in Germany? Play Pong with your friend or neighbor across the street

  1. This is an awesome idea! It would definitely make my campus’ “punishment crosswalk” a lot more tolerable. After reading the design company’s website, though, it appears that the video is a simulation and that it hasn’t been implemented anywhere yet 🙂

  2. I just know I’d be standing behind someone like “Hurry uuuuup and cross the streeeeet I wanna plaaaaayyyyyy.”

    Like Emma, I’m reminded of my campus cross-lights. First, they installed lights with prerecorded, but very muffled voices, so it sounded like “Walk like a dog” (Walk light is on.) They then installed these boxes with a recorded voice that announced when it was safe to cross. So they had this dude with a super thick Southern accent record the voices. So it was “Wawk siiiign, Ches-nyut.”

    • “Walk light is on” – I had NO idea what they were saying. I always meant to google it. It does sounds *exactly* like “walk like a dog.”
      HA! Now I know.

  3. I think the heart of this story is “In Germany we wait for the lights to turn green.”
    As an expat living in Germany, I have gotten SOOOO many dirty looks for jaywalking! But honestly, even Pong wouldn’t make me wait.

    • My sister was recently living in Germany (now lives in South Africa)…and when I went to visit her, we had a long casual conversation about the “rules” in Germany (wait for crosswalks, where to walk on paths, how to buy groceries, how to eat in a cafe, etc). She said if you break them, Germans will yell at you in their very best Angry German…or give you a dirty look and tell you passive agressively you’re doing it wrong.

      • “…how to buy groceries, how to eat in cafes, etc.” Now I’m really intrigued — what are the rules for each of those two situations?

        • My sister said (and showed us) this is how things go down:

          Buying groceries: You pack your own groceries. You must either have your own bags, or tell the clerk at the beginning if you need bags. The clerks are lightning fast so you need to be lightning fast. Also have payment ready and waiting while you’re packing groceries. She said the first time she bought groceries, it was a terrifying and blood-pumping experience. Also she wasn’t fast enough and everyone behind her was doing the loud sigh with eyerolling.

          Eating in a cafe (bakery): The German’s are big on their kuchen and torten (cakes and tarts). Most days German’s will go to bakery’s for a coffee and a slice of cake before dinner. The deal is you go into the cafe, order, and if you’re eating in…you must point to where you’ll be sitting so they can bring your food. If you are not specific enough (2nd floor near at the back), they’ll give you an earful. My sister told the lady we were eating upstairs…little did she know there were 3 floors, when the lady got to our table, she gave my sister an earful about how she had to walk around to find us.

          But this was how it was in her city…other cities might’ve been different.

          • (Native German here)

            The supermarket thing is really that way, the cafe thing is not something I have encountered before – but I also don’t usually eat in cafes that are that large.

            (Also, I challenge “Most days German’s will go to bakery’s for a coffee and a slice of cake before dinner.” That’s really just something for the weekends.)

    • It is real! It is currently a temporary installation from what I can tell, but it does actually exist at a crosswalk somewhere in Germany.

      • Never mind, it was a simulation of a concept they’d like to implement but would have difficulty getting permission for.

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