The first few thoughts that ran through my head as I reviewed the overview page were: “tamagotchi cards”, “random acts of kindness”, “where’s george” and “cross-channel social networking”!
Akoha is an online game and community that has real world connections. Players have missions to complete such as “thank someone” or “give someone a surprise gift”. According to Austin Hill’s presentation at the conference, the game was intended to be something that made people happy to play. (“random acts of kindness”). With each mission, however, the player also passes on a mission card (“tamagotchi card”). The cardholder can then go to the website and confirm his card (“where’s george”).
Then the social networking/user-generated content begins! Players can share details about the mission, create a video or upload a photo. There is the standard “wall” feature where players can leave messages for each other. Players earn “karma points”, and there is talk of more development of badges and virtual currency before the official launch in 2009. Players can suggest new missions, or see where their specific mission card has travelled.
The most intriguing part of this game is the cross-channel aspect of it. A mission is completed offline, yet recorded and commented about online. In their concept comics, I noticed a QR code, and there’s mention of an iPhone app. I’ll be very interested to see if there will be some geo-location features added down the road. In bridging this divide between the online and real world, players can print out PDFs of mission cards, or request decks be sent to them. The obvious question right now is “where is the money for shipping/printing going to come from?” Right now there are investors, but I certainly see some opportunity for sponsorship or ad revenue with the game as it is right now.
Some of the logistics aren’t entirely clear to me. I’ll be interested to see how many missions fail, that is, how many people who receive mission cards never log in. Right now the program is in beta, but it appears that people who receive mission cards will be allowed to join. I’d love to see how rapidly the community grows! I’d love to see first-hand, so I’ll just patiently hope that a current player like Chris Brogan sends something my way!
It’ll be very interesting to see how the game catches on, and what sort of long-term integration may take place. Will “give a book to someone” tie into shelfari/amazon? Will tcho sponsor some of the chocolate donations?
The individual concepts behind Akona are nothing revolutionary – helpothers.org has been promoting “smile cards” since 2003. Yet it is the thoughtful integration of the features that make it interesting and intriguing. I look forward to learning more, as soon as I get invited to play!