centianCentian misses playing games with humans…won’t you oblige? By playing with Centian, you could win a registration badge for the 2011 Interactive festival at SXSW. Run by the folks at Sweb Development, the points-based contest ends March 15, and the central hub for the game is the Centian Games Ning site. Centian Games incorporates multiple platforms, including Twitter, SMS, and GPS-based smartphone apps. Right now, contestants can compete by using the #centiangames hashtag when Twittering their check-ins on Gowalla and/or Foursquare. Another way to win the SXSW badge is to answer internet search trivia questions over an SMS subscription service. It remains to be seen what other challenges and fun human games Centian will devise in the lead-up to Sweb Development’s exhibit at the free and open-to-the-public ScreenBurn Arcade at SXSW from March 12-14 in Austin, Texas. But, there’s something undeniably ARG-ish about Centian.

The twitter account responded to my Gowalla check-ins, and we started a conversation about playing games, which moved from Twitter into e-mails (I’ve posted the e-mail correspondence over at Unfiction). There, I got the chance to learn more about Centian the non-human. Centian certainly has a distinct personality: chipper, bubbly, and fun-loving. It reminds me of Eddie, the Heart of Gold’s onboard computer in the Hitchhiker’s Guide, but less nauseating. The contest itself is an ancient game called Malkut, which means Royalty in the language of its people.

Wait… what? Centian has a people? At first I thought it was some kind of HAL-like electronic entity, just a superficial net-presence to run the contest. I was wrong. According to Centian’s e-mail responses, it is a “Krateran,” an extinct people that apparently had human interactions in the past. Now, Centian seems to be alone, the last of its kind. I wonder what happened, and why we humans have forgotten the Kraterans.

When I asked it to play an iPhone game with me, Centian told me it couldn’t because it doesn’t have a body. But, Centian also reminisced that its people used to play Blind Man’s Bluff, which is impossible to play without bodies. I pointed out the contradiction and was corrected cheerfully: “Blind Man’s Bluff is like a game of Marco Polo out of water. As I said earlier, my people used to play this game. My people had bodies, of course silly. How else would they have played that super fun game?” Touché.

The coming weeks should see a ramp-up in the kinds of challenges and interactions players can have with Centian. However, the game is definitely underway and will likely get more intense as SXSW approaches—for both attendees/people in the Austin area and nonattendees. The contest just started, so it’s not too late to join in and try to secure yourself a badge for next year’s SXSW Interactive festival. The rules and leaderboard can be found at the Centian Games Ning site, but outside of the contest, Centian wants to play.

Don’t you?

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Remember, time is running out to enter our contest to win an iPod Touch. So make sure to enter before the end of the day Tuesday, February 16th.