Jan 05

FourSquare! (huh?)

by Wil Knoll · 3 comments

Way more productive than Farmville

Just over a month ago, FourSquare added Calgary to the list of supported cities that it’s users could play in. Calgary had joined the ranks of New York, Barcelona, and Vancouver as metropolitan areas that users could battle in for ownership of physical locations.

For the uninitiated, FourSquare is almost an augmented reality game. Users get points for checking into physical locations, like the local pub or eatery, and battle for position on the weekly leader board. A check in at a new location gets you five points if you’re the first person to create the venue, and five points for your first visit there. But that’s just the tip. Geolocation connects you to advice left by other players, there are unlock-able achievements, and people battle for the coveted “Mayorship” of their favourite locales.

It’s pretty simple to play. One heads over to foursquare.com and creates a user account, or creates one through the iPhone or Android application. As the player moves through the physical world, their GPS is used to locate venues around them to check in. If they frequent any locale more than other players, they become the Mayor of that location, a status that is used to lord their loyalty over other players. Whenever a Mayorship passes hands, or someone is “outed”, the player’s account broadcasts out on their social networks that the title has been taken.

It’s simple. Go out. Go to places. Meet up with friends for fun, drinks, or dinner. Earn points while doing it to compete with your friends.

What makes FourSquare so engaging is that it requires you to embrace the most important side of social networking, the “social”. There is a thrill about getting into a location knowing that it’s getting you one step closer to unlocking the “super-user” badge, or the “bender” badge. Or, because it was the third stop tonight, you got three extra points for travel bonus, and your first time in the venue for an extra five that should put you just over top of @superblue on the leader board this week (do not attempt to battle blue, she will win).

Here’s some simple advice to help the newb sort through their first few check-ins on FourSquare.

1) Don’t create your home
It’s great that some people want to check-in every day at their home… but it’s kinda missing the point. Also, having your address publicly available on the Internet is one thing, but advertising if you are there or not? Not such a great idea. Besides, one guy had created “my place” or something and was not even the mayor. Don’t set yourself up to be trolled.

2) Don’t check in at work
Kinda the same as number one.

3) Don’t broadcast every check-in
If you hook FourSquare into Twitter or Facebook or any other social network that it allows, it gives you the option of telling your friends about each check-in. Sure, tell them, over the FourSquare push notifications. But spamming Twitter with every check in at Starbucks kinda turns into finding that lonely cow on Farmville. I’ve never played. I don’t care. That cow shouldn’t have wandered off in the first place…

4) You don’t have to friend everyone
Remember, this isn’t just playing in a digital realm with people you will never meet. The point is to bump into other players and fight over mayorship of your favourite joints. But if you allow every stranger to friend you, you might as well just post on Twitter your physical location for everyone to see (wait, I do that sometimes, what’s wrong with that?). What I’m trying to say is that when you get as specific as your choice of bar on a Friday Night, not every stranger needs to know in real time when you check in.

So there you go. Get out there. Start checking in and battling for ownership of the hot spots. If you really wanted to irk some people, I hear the Purple Perk on 4th is a popular spot, Go grab a tea and smile sinisterly, knowing you have started working towards your dominion over Calgary.


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