Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Akoha: Playing It Forward

While we wait for Wrath, let me take the opportunity to point you to a new type of game.

One of my friends is involved with a startup, Akoha. Akoha is described as the "world’s first social reality game where you can earn points by playing real-world missions with your friends." It's still in Beta, and is looking to launch sometime in the new year, I believe.

Essentially, you start with a pack of cards. Each card has a mission on it, a mission ID number, and is worth X points. Missions are real world activities like (looking at my pack):
  • Donate an Hour of Your Time (200 points)
  • Invite Someone for Coffee (175 points)
  • Thank Someone (125 points)
  • Give a Compact Fluorescent Bulb (200 points)
(Yeah, it's got a heavy starry-eyed, young, urban 20-somethings influence, but they mean well.)

You do your mission with someone in your real world, and give her the card. She goes onto the Akoha website, and enters the mission id, confirming that the mission passed from you to her, and everyone gets points. There's options to enter more details, and pictures/video of the event. Then she can "play it forward" and passes the mission on to someone new, and the process repeats itself. You can see nice maps and graphs of how your mission gets passed around the world.

It's an interesting idea, especially the way it attempts to mix the real world with the internet. It's also an interesting attempt to promote people being nice towards each other, an altruistic game instead of a zero-sum competitive game.

Of course, coming from the MMO world, I have a little more cynical bent, and it's interesting to see the divide. I briefly held the highest score in the game after bouncing a single mission back and forth between two accounts umpteen times. To me it seemed obvious that someone would try that, would try to grief and/or cheat.

I'm also a little concerned about how they plan to make money. Personally, I'm a fan of the Blizzard model. I give Blizzard money and Blizzard keeps the servers running. It's very simple, and everyone understands their part. These Web 2.0 social networking games/sites, I have no idea how the money flows, and that is a bit worrying.

Heh, here's an exchange that illustrates the divide between gamers and non-gamers. There's a forum where people can suggest new missions.

Someone Else: How about a "Make Love to Your Lover" mission, to show them that they are truly special.
Me: This is going to suck when it gets "played forward."


  1. Haha.. thats interesting. I'd have to say I would at least gander at that, whether or not it would be something I partake in.. beats me.

  2. OK, maybe its because I'm not a 20-something, but i laughed my ass off at the idea of this game.

    It reminds me of the people who came up with the idea of not keeping score at kids soccer and lil' league games. (the problem being of course that for it to work, you can't teach your kid how to count)

    I'm pretty sure that this game will have zero interest outside of the tofu set.

    Thanks Rohan, I needed a laugh while Blizz fixes the server problems.

  3. I don't think it's that bad, Artery.

    Essentially, the game is just capitalizing on the stuff you do with your friends anyways. (Well, maybe not the CFL bulb.) It just gives you an excuse to ask them for coffee. Then you pass around the card, and it adds a little extra novelty to the interaction. Something like, "Hmm, I'm bored, lets see if I can play an Akoha card."

    Plus the maps and everything are pretty cool.

    Personally, I don't really see the attraction of things like Facebook, but they are quite popular. This is along similar lines. A game for Socialisers, not Achievers, Explorers, or Killers, to go with the Bartle Archetypes.

    Though, honestly, that's my greatest interest in it. (And the fact that my friend is involved.) I really want to see what happens when a Killer enters the Akoha system.

  4. My post was just an instant reaction from my twisted and cynical point of view. Maybe its because i grew up in the stuffy part of the Midwest, or maybe its because I'm over 35 and I have a completely different point of view about the importance of privacy than the average user of facebook.

    While I am obviously not in the target market-audience for this game, I hope your friend has great success with Akoha.

  5. "Kill your friends kitten" 1000 Points: Play it forward

    Ummmm... me thinks that might not go over so well with their target market.

  6. This idea isn't entirely new. Someone came up with a version intended to get little kids to do their chores (ChoreQuest? don't remember the exact name) a while back - if I recall, it made Penny Arcade. The physical card that gets passed around is interesting and a clever way of trying to lure the people you do stuff for into the game (alternately, a way of convincing all your friends - and perhaps a number of random strangers - that you're bleeping nuts). But yeah, this is a game balanced for socializers using an achievement structure that's bound to get abused by achievers.

  7. An interesting idea, but not sure it would keep my interest.

    I am also a fan of bliz. even if the server's were down when I got home.