Last week at an event I spoke at I was asked a fascinating question by a member of the audience: "where are all these new Foursquare users coming from? I thought it had died a death?"
My answer was what I thought was the reality - I said that recording and publishing info about your life is becoming more socially acceptible. But then I realised I was just a statistic. After being an early proponent of location based social media services, I had recently dropped off the radar myself. Not new or shiny any more.
But in the last few weeks something changed. Don't know why, but I started gaming things more. I started playing more Foursquare not for the networking, but to get points, go up the leaderboard, earn badges, level-ups and mayorships. This side of things hadn't mattered to much to me previously but recently that changed.
Why? (I think this is why but I'm not too sure...) Life streaming tech in general has been interesting me more, from the much-hyped Nike Fuelband to my Runkeeper app to the Quantified Self movement. The way our agency business is at the moment too, we're doing a lot of playing, building and gaming. I'm just practicing what we preach really.
So excuse my social stream at the moment, especially Twitter and Foursquare. I'm trying to game everything I can lay my hands on, just to see how it makes a difference to things in general. (and as always, I'll update this blog as I learn new tricks along the way).
So here goes what I hope will at the very leas be a fun little project of play!!!1
Update: 3rd July
After two months of gaming everything, I have some learnings I thought I would share. I mainly gamed Foursquare and apps, gadgets and widgets that score your body data.
- I have become seriously addicted to body data. I now carry gadgets around with me everywhere I go that are effectively gaming my health (and I like this as it's working as inspiration). I have started a new blog about body data and it has become a new business area for our agency. This is niche right now, but speak to some of my colleagues and they're willing to bet everything that it will be bigger than you imagine. Also, Foursquare links into Fitbit which is one of the body data gadgets I have bought and use. The opportunities here I think are really exciting
- I found Foursquare as a network and a game much more multi-dimensional than before. I used to use Foursquare for adding a bit of extra functionality to my Twitter use (ie pinging friends when I'm close by, seeing who's where) and also for crowdsourcing (ie lists and discovery). What I have now discovered is that the gaming side of Foursquare (the points, badges and mayorships) is as addictive as any social game. More than that, you end up changing things in real life as a result too, like your commute, where you get lunch, whether you walk or take the tube... it's the ultimate ARG
- Point scoring on Foursquare takes 1-2 months to build. It took me a month to start getting a good number of badges and mayorships, as I had to reinforce my patterns and outpace others. After that the points got higher and higher. A good week would net me 200 points, a crazy week 300. Then when I saw a colleague get 400+ points, the only time I've ever seen someone I know get so high
- After two months of pretty addictive behaviour I have reached a 7-day high score of 500. This has been described by some I have mentioned it to as 'insane'. And I have found that I have been using Foursquare a little too often for comfort
- There are haters. My gaming habits have attracted derision from some. People who are either not into gaming themselves or not in a position where it's relevant to their jobs tend to write to me telling me what they think. Whis is nice :/
- Finally, the new Foursquare (a relaunch happened last month) is much, much more of a social network than before. Much more conversation happening on there than before.
I have said to colleagues that I'm now going to retire from Foursquare, having completed this intense gaming experiment. I'm not really, but I will stop gaming the game. The social side of it I will continue, and the body data I certainly will.