Google Gravity: More Search Engine Fun
There was a video game featuring the comic book character Incredible Hulk and created using one of those advanced computer graphics engines called Havok. The game basically allowed the player to save the city of New York from the bad guys while reducing the city to a smashed heap of rubble.
The Hulk was so powerful he could “transform” something like the Rockefeller building into fine powder in a matter of seconds, and the game allowed the player to interact with the game environment in as realistic a way as possible.
Metal cars can be smashed into a twisted heap and the Hulk can use them as a shield or gloves, concrete walls can be punched and stomped on until it turns into rubble, water splashes and ripples out realistically when the Hulk drops onto a lake.
What was so awesome about it wasn’t necessarily the Hulk’s bad-assedness. It was the game’s architecture — it allowed the player to interact with the in-game environment in surprising little ways that sucked me in for hours.
I’m going on and on about the hulk because one of Google’s Fun Tricks called Google Gravity reminds me so much of what the Havok game engine allowed its game players to do: to interact with the elements on the screen by emulating the laws of classical physics. If you ever had the urge to just pick up things and begin throwing them at walls, Google Gravity would simply let you indulge in doing it. You want to search “fun things to do with a proctologist” and toss that keyword against the browser’s walls, you can have at it.
What Exactly is Google Gravity?
How to Run Google Gravity
Using Google gravity as some kind of neat trick or prank you can do to amaze your unwary or less tech-savvy friends is a great way to start surfing the internet. This works especially for the most gullible—you can pretend to sneeze and time it just as when you’re accessing Google gravity so that the elements on the Google homepage would seem as if “destroyed” by your sneeze. Or you can recite some Latin-sounding “mantra” and pretend you are making the homepage elements “just give it up and die.” It really depends on your creativity and sense of humor. But that is, assuming that your friend has never encountered the trick.
To run, play or enable Google gravity, just go to Google’s homepage ( HYPERLINK “http://www.google.com” www.google.com), type “google gravity” in the search bar, then click the “I’m feeling lucky” button. That’s it—afterwards, you can play with it as much as you want.
However, if Google’s Instant Search feature is turned on (it is turned on by default if you are using the Chrome browser), you might not have a chance to click the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button because as soon as you type “google gravity” in the search bar, the search engine quickly brings you to the first page of the result, by which you’ll clearly see that this “Google fun trick” is actually running from a site called MrDoobs. Clicking on the first result means you have to go through an extra step, and somehow, this breaks your intention to prank a friend (he or she will notice that it’s from an external link). In any case, that’s how easy you can use this fun trick, and ensuring the most satisfying result requires some good amount of preparation.
Fun Things To Do with Google Gravity
Sure, the homepage elements drop down to the floor due to gravity. But now what? Moving past the initial “shock,” you can actually enjoy this Google fun trick further. Here are the most common things you can do or discover with Google gravity.
Move the elements around: of course, you didn’t assume that once the on-screen elements fall down all you are left to do is to stare at them, did you? With the elements “loose,” you can treat them as individual objects. Which means you can use the mouse cursor to pick an element and drag it around the screen. For example, click on a button, hold, and drag it. Or you can use CTRL-left-click to choose multiple elements and drag or move it around. White-knuckled excitement, right?
Drop it like it’s hot: And because here we’re speaking of classical gravity (the kind of gravity that affects objects here on Earth), we’re essentially speaking of falling things. So when you grab anything, un-clicking is tantamount to dropping it. Dropping on-screen things—that is so hardcore!
Throw a mini-tantrum: now this gets interesting, and which reminds me again of the game play in Incredible Hulk (or any video game that uses the Havok game engine). If you grab an on-screen element, you can use it as some sort of billiard ball to hit other elements. The way the elements behave on the screen can be “beautiful” when considered from a certain perspective—I appreciate the physics of it all. What’s more, the size of the on-screen element gives it its own appropriate weight: the bigger it is, the “heavier” or more powerful it becomes. So tossing something big like the “I’m feeling lucky” button at a bunch of small hyperlinks is more “spectacular” than throwing “About us” at the same pile. Feel free to go crazy with all the throwing.
The Pendulum trick: every little detail is well taken care of. “Gravity” is made to affect objects in ways that are only appropriate to their specific shape. The Google logo, for example, can be made to behave like a pendulum. Click and hold it with your mouse on one of its sides, shake it and see how it sways “in the air.” You can also try spinning it around, but it can be tough to pull it off.
Shake it like you mean it: with Google gravity, the browser also acts like a jar that contains things. Minimize the browser window. Now hold the window and shake it vigorously like it’s crawling with ants or something. See how the on-screen elements get tossed about like those little things in a snow globe.
Enlarge effect: now, assuming that the browser is minimized as a small window—click it to restore it back to full size or to maximize it and see how the elements “explode” to fly into the newly available space—as if being liberated from a little bottle and out into a vaster expanse.
Don’t forget that it’s still Google: the search bar, the buttons, the hyperlinks—they are still working. Even if you wildly toss them around the screen and mess with them until they’re seemingly unrecognizable, these individual objects still function the way they are supposed to.
Search for the Enter button in the haystack: As I said, all the individual objects are still working. So if you try to type a query into the search bar, it will still work as a search engine—that is, if you can find the Enter button in that mass of jumbled heap.
Google Gravity: Perceived Effect on SERPs
Well, this may be nitpicking or taking things too seriously, but there were people who thought that Google gravity may affect the search engine ranking of certain websites. As you may realize, search engine optimizers work to push their chosen keywords or websites up on top of Google’s first page of search results. But under something like Google gravity, the rankings are left at the mercy of “gravity”—when the results are in a jumbled heap of things at the bottom of the browser’s screen, then the rankings become meaningless. Anyone can appear suddenly behind someone else who, in the well-ordered world of Google’s normal business, would have been the one at the bottom of search results.
That may be true, however, if Google gravity were permanent and were actually part of Google. But the search engine giant, as everyone knows, would not be so foolish as to mess with a fairly robust search algorithm. The “good news” is that Google gravity first started as a fun experiment, and even now, it still is. It has no effect on actual search engine rankings, and all its neat tricks are only designed to affect how the browser displays information on the screen. Years after it was first unveiled, though, it is still a nice little prank you can play harmlessly on unwary friends.