When Foursquare launched their location-based iPhone application at SxSW this year, I downloaded it (they also have a mobile website and are working on applications for other mobile devices) and played while in Austin. It was a lot of fun, but unfortunately, Phoenix wasn't in the city list, so when I returned home I wasn't able to continue. A few months later, they added Phoenix and many other major cities and I once again began to play. I've told so many people about it that I've been asked if I work for Foursquare :) I don't, but there are reasons I use it over other location-based services. It mostly has to do with their philosophy:
50% friend-finder, 30% social cityguide, 20% nightlife game. We wanted to build something that not only helps you keep up with your friends, but exposes you to new things and challenges you to explore cities in different ways.
They do this through awarding points for checkins and badges for interesting things you do. So for instance, you might check in after 3am on Thursday night to get the "School Night" badge. You can also become mayor if you have the most checkins at a venue. Additionally, you can leave tips for other people at a location or create a to-do list of things you want to do. They're also thinking about how to get more people to make new friends and discover new places by adjusting the scoring mechanism:
We've been playing with awarding points for checking off the things on your To-Do list and for when people do the things you've recommended. We were playing with points for adding new places to our database and taking away points (!!) for always going to the same places (boo!) with the same people (wah!) or trying to game the system (even worse!).
What interests me the most, is how it's affected my attitude toward Phoenix. You see, Phoenix used to be the city I passed through to get from my home in West Phoenix to my employer in Chandler. Now, I look forward to heading into Phoenix to discover new places and meet new people. I've also noticed that I have a tendency to look for local small businesses instead of going to well-known chains. Especially if they're not already in the Foursquare database... I mean, come on, that's 5 extra points for a new venue! Additionally, TechCrunch recently had an article about how Foursquare is showing the potential of location based services as venues take it upon themselves to offer incentives to Foursquare players and mayors. Very interesting indeed!
Now get out there and have fun discovering Phoenix! Oh, and add me as a friend on Foursquare.
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