Tech + Lifestyle

games, gear, and googleplexes (joke)

Booyah Society: As Dumb As It Sounds


Booyah Society

Booyah Society

Booyah Society: the game where you get points for doing things in real life.

I got an email from a PR rep a few weeks ago about its launch. They describe it as, “The first social game based on real-life achievements.” Hmmm.

I find myself in interesting position as I write this – I haven’t yet tried it. Oh, sure, I’m interested in checking it out, but an ugly beast has raised its head – compatibility. Apparently, Booyah Society will not run on my 1st-gen iPod Touch. Checking again, I realize it does in fact state this on the App Store page, but I’m still somewhat bummed. Apparently I’m a second-class citizen of the App Store, though that’s another article altogether. Back to Booyah Society, or rather, the idea of it.

Frankly, I’m not entirely sure what to make of this yet. On the one hand, why not? It encourages gamers to spend a little more time doing things other than playing video games, which I confess often receive a disproportionate amount of my time. The concept actually reminds me of a joke several gamers/writers/webcomic artists have made – the best way to get a gamer in shape is to equate exercising with in-game training. Do some card and raise your stamina two points, bulk up to gain strength, complete obstacle courses for increased agility, and so on and so forth. It’s a funny concept, sure, but how much more palatable does it really make the activity, and for how many people will it actually make enough of a motivational difference?

Even if it is encouraging us to engage the world more directly, there’s also potential for distortion of the original intent. If we only do things to claim in-game achievements, is there really even that much worth to it? Most of us wouldn’t make much more than a minor change in our habits, but the ultra-competitive would likely end up doing things just to say they’ve done them and claim another achievement.

Incidentally, the potential for distortion of the original intent is similar to a certain type of behavior I saw while in China. When on vacation, most Chinese travelers sign up for tour groups of a certain area – it’s cheaper than going on your own. Unfortunately, most tours pack more things into the allotted time than is practical. The end result is that most Chinese tourists don’t go much further into an attraction or cultural site than the entrance. They’ve got a picture of themselves posing with the sign, but not much more. Similarly, I’m worried some would rather make the minimum effort to earn achievements without actually receiving the benefit of an encouraged activity.

Still, overall this might be a good thing. There’s a certain conceptual similarity to Wii Fit – running in place on the board might not be quite as good as really going for a jog, but it’s also a damn sight more beneficial than sitting on the couch not moving at all. In that light, full steam ahead – it’s free, so the worst you can do is use up a little bandwidth.

Sadly, academic discussions rarely equate with reality. When I finally tried out Booyah Society on a friend’s iPhone, I was sorely disappointed. The interface was poorly implemented, buttons were more often than not unresponsive, and the introductory mode was more frustrating than helpful. I think I’ll just stick with slightly more traditional forms of one-upmanship. You know, like Twitter and Facebook.

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September 2, 2009 - Posted by | Gaming, iPhone/iPod Touch | , , ,

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