There are many online games, but more than 1.5 million people around the world play one that’s become popular recently: Foursquare. The point is to connect with your friends.
Disclaimer: I don’t play Foursquare myself.
Smartphone, Twitter and Facebook
You need a GPS-enabled cellphone with an Internet connection, and a Twitter, or Facebook account.
You also need to sign up with Foursquare. It’s free.
When you go places, such as to shops, restaurants, museums or parks, you ‘check in’ with Foursquare.
If you wish, your checkins are broadcast to your Twitter and Facebook friends.
You can see if any of your friends are nearby, and perhaps leave Tips about special features such as discounts and sales, or the best item to order from the menu.
You may also find Tips from other Foursquare players suggesting things to do nearby.
You can also add places that aren’t already listed on Foursquare.
The Mayor of …
Every time you check in to a particular place you earn points or badges.
If you check in at a particular location more often than anyone else in a month you become the ‘Mayor’ of that location. This gives you status, but some businesses or organisations may also give you special rewards such as discounted or free goods and services.
This is essentially a loyalty reward. An example may be that every 5th checkin earns 20% off a purchase.
Other businesses may make special offers to Foursquare players, whatever their status.
Benefits to organisations
As a business, or perhaps a museum or other non-profit venue, it can be useful to participate in Foursquare. They can see statistics about how many people are visiting, what time of day they visit, what gender visitors are, and many more details.
Part of the benefit to them is that as you check in you’re promoting their venue, especially if you broadcast your location to your friendship networks.
Foursquare describe themselves like this:
Foursquare is a mobile application that is a cross between a friend-finder, a social city-guide, and a game that encourages users to explore their neighborhoods and rewards them for doing so. We do this by combining our friend-finder functionality and social city guide elements with game mechanics — our users earn points, win mayorships and unlock badges and specials for trying new places and revisiting old favorites.
If you enjoy exploration, and friends, this may be an online game that appeals to you.
Written by Miraz Jordan for, and reproduced from CommunityNet Aotearoa Panui, July 2010. This article has been modified for publication here.
Cartoon by Rob Cottingham, under a Creative Commons Non-Commercial Attribution license.