Suddenly, 'Risk'-like games are cool, and Google is getting in on the action.

By Nicole Guanlao

March 26, MTV

There's a fierce competition afoot. Alliances are forming, and armies are fighting for recruits, territories and, of course, bragging rights. These intense rivalries have yet to graze the front pages of newspapers, but to those who spend every day defending their territories, these daily clashes are worth the blood, sweat and tears shed in the ultimate fighting ground, cyberspace.

The online game "Turf" and rival "GoCrossCampus" ("GXC") have caught the attention of thousands of college students around the country. The games' young creators have taken the concept of strategic territorial conquest — the bread and butter of board games like "Risk" — online, allowing students to duke it out on cyber versions of their campuses. And, lest grownups get too jealous of the college kids, the corporate world is eyeing its own versions of the games, beginning with Google.

Yale University alum Gabe Smedresman gave birth to the idea that translated intra-campus rivalries into the virtual realm. As an undergrad, he created "Old Campus Tree Risk."

"I wanted to make a game that existed both in the real world and on the Web and sort of somehow involve flags on trees, and it just evolved from there," Smedresman explained. And though he had to drop his real-life flag idea, he eventually developed "Turf" in January 2007, which attracted an estimated 62 percent of Yale undergraduates (3,300 students) to its first tournament.

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