Thanks to a Grand Rapids software development firm, you can now hold the booming world of Michigan craft beer in the palm of your hand.
Fusionary Media has created the "Michigan Micro Caps" smartphone game; a casual time-waster that includes a full index of Michigan breweries.
"We wanted to create a game people would play on one hand, but which would offer some value on the other," said Steve Lewis, Fusionary partner and lead programmer on Micro Caps.
The concept is quite simple and the game plays similar to the popular "Bejeweled" tile-matching game. Users attempt to form chains of adjacent brewery bottle caps and level-up by clearing the board of each chain.
The game doubles as a reference tool meant to expose beer fans to new breweries. The board populates each level with caps featuring logos from each of the currently 102 in-state breweries. When you touch a specific cap, the game gives you information on that brewery, including a location and social media contact.
"It's a casual game based on a pretty popular mechanic, which we just added a few extras to," said Lewis.
Micro Caps is a free game available for Apple's iPhone and Google's Android operating systems. It has nabbed more than 2,000 downloads between them since debuting in the Apple App Store in early June.
Lewis said users who have downloaded the game have played more than half a million levels in total, which indicates "they are engaging and using it, which is cool." Each level takes about 30 seconds to play. An entire game takes about five minutes.
The app has gotten positive reviews save for a bug the team fixed this month.
The app is the first iPhone game for Fusionary, which started building websites in 1995. Web design clients include Kendall College of Art and Design, Steelcase, The Kent District Library, General Motors and Frederik Meijer Gardens.
They are currently reworking a previously developed game called "Swoop to Nuts" for the Apple iPad.
"The games are more of a side thing," said Lewis. "Initially, we started doing these as end-of-the-year self-promos to show off to prospective clients."
They are hoping the game continues to gain popularity, and Fusionary plans to add new features and breweries as they open. In between levels, a banner ad delivers relevant news about microbrew festivals and other craft beers events in Michigan. Lewis said they are considering a GPS feature that would allow users to find the breweries and plan visits, or tailor the game to a specific brewery.
If the game proves successful enough, it's a model easily adapted to other states with a sizeable craft beer industry and fan base.
"We want to see how well received it is in Michigan," he said. "It would be great to roll out to other states as well."