Foursquare Turns A Fun Night Out Into A Video Game IRL
- March 10th, 2010
- 6 Comments
Today’s Ypulse Youth Advisory Board post is from Chase Straight on the Gen Y appeal of Foursquare—the location-based mobile check-in service that’s been building buzz steadily for a while now (see the New York Times, reg. required, feature that ran last October). Will we see a tipping point with young adults this year a la Twitter or will the niche of urban techie hipsters hold? Chase weighs in.
Foursquare Turns A Fun Night Out Into A Video Game IRL
Hi, my name is Chase and I’m addicted to Foursquare. Over the last few months, Foursquare has become a key component of my adventures and has launched an all out assault on my Twitter feed. For those of you living under a rock, Foursquare is a location-based mobile social network application that allows you to “check in” to venues, share your location and see where your friends are.
Foursquare’s website traffic has tripled in the first two months of 2010 - making claims like Pete Cashmore’s that Foursquare will become “the new Twitter” all the more credible. Rather than call it the new x or y (cmon, how cliche is that anyway?) I would like to be the first to title it “The New Awesome.”
This is the most fun I’ve had with social media since hijacking my roomate’s computers and updating their Facebook statuses with things they didn’t appreciate. Location-based services are supposedly going to be the new rage, but Foursquare is more than a service or social media outlet, it’s a game. Why do I (and roughly 350,000 other people) love Foursquare so much? Let’s break it down….
One of Foursquare’s features is the ability to become “mayor” of a certain venue, anything from a busy nightclub to your bathroom. Check in to a venue at least twice, only once a day counts, and have more checkins than the current mayor to take over. I’ve seen people wage Foursquare war with each other on Twitter (you can sync your Twitter and Facebook feeds with Foursquare checkins) over mayorships of certain venues. The idea of being the “mayor” gives users a sense of ownership, taking a stake in their communities and places they visit. In a sense it’s almost like regulars staking out their “territory.” Sure, I don’t own Cowboy Chow in Dallas, but that doesn’t stop me from parading around the place like I do - I’m the mayor!
Different actions such as checking in, adding a location, providing a tip, etc., give the user points. Every week there is a running leaderboard to see where you stand among your friends. Hey, who doesn’t like a little friendly competition? Problem is that if you’re with the same people you might end up with the same points! I’ve run across the street at a venue with friends and picked up a quick bite to eat just for the extra check in. Call it obsession if you want, I call it being a champion.
Becoming a mayor on Foursquare is just part of the reward of using Foursquare. The best part, in my opinion, is being able to earn a multitude of badges for your efforts. Foursquare keeps the requirements for unlocking these badges hidden, so earning one is always a pleasant surprise. In New York City a couple weeks ago a friend and I unlocked a badge called “I’m on a boat.” Neither of us had any clue why or how we got it, but it sure felt good! Other users can see the badges you’ve unlocked on your profile, so a decent collection affords bragging rights among other users.
I’ve heard some say that applications like Foursquare actually detract from a night out but I couldn’t disagree more. On a night where I’d usually hole up at one location, Foursquare provides a motivation to go out and explore as many places as possible. It only takes a few seconds to check in and it’s hilarious to watch a bunch of Foursquare friends whip out their phones to be the first to check in. You know a night has been good when you look at your Twitter feed the next morning and see five or more check-ins.
It all really comes down to motivation doesn’t it? This is a tool meant to enhance and change the way we explore and do and it does just that. Almost every feature of this application is meant to get you moving and exploring.
Some places even provide Foursquare specials that you’ll unlock while out and about, guiding you to new locales. Location based mobile advertising is growing to be a contentious issue based on recent moves from Apple and Google, but scoring a deal is always fun.
On a less “nightclubbish” level, it provides motivation to check out new restaurants, coffee shops, etc. To use the Cowboy Chow example listed above, I’m going to check out other locations at lunch I haven’t been to if I’ve already staked my ownership.
On a wider scale—will Foursquare really be the next big thing? While I’m not going to make claims to that one way or another, I will say that the application is refreshingly innovative. It’s fun to play with friends and turns going through the every day motions of life into a physical videogame. Look for Foursquare to make a serious name for itself after a new version debuted today with a sleeker user interface in preparation for SXSW next week. Still relatively small, Foursquare is on the verge of breaking into the mainstream in a big way.
Chase works for a online community management and moderation company. He recently moved to Dallas, TX and serves as Head of Community for an online virtual world for kids. A former journalism major at the University of Utah, he wrote feature articles and album reviews for a music and art magazine. He is fascinated and constantly amazed with how children create and interact online. Aside from his work, Chase is an avid gamer, blogger, live music lover and audiophile who is obsessed with discovering new music and building his already extensive collection. Oh, and he really likes pandas. (You can also find him blogging about virtual worlds on his company’s blog at metaversemodsquad.com/blog)