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.

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