ALTHOUGH SOME PEOPLE may be getting browned off about the game play of Foursquare, I've a lot of time for location-based services. During the past year, I've slowly climbed up and slipped down from holding 100 mayorships--but anyone who's played Foursquare knows how to game the system and check into places to claim top dog. In fact, the more time I spend rewinding the history of avid Foursquare users, the more often I find places that aren't on anybody's map. But that's not important--it's just a game filled with inexpensive badges. I can't compete with the badge brigade. Guys like Niall Fagan (35 badges) and Vincent McCool (22 badges) consistently top the Irish Leaderboard for their check-ins and if you look at their histories, they plan their journeys to collect badges awarded for multiple stops over a 30 day period. When Foursquare gives away a badge for checking into a gym at least 10 times in a month or for visiting four or more Starbucks, some people are going to try to do those things, just to earn the badges. And when Foursquare gives me reduced prices on bagels and coffee (as it has when I've walked from Penn Station to Central Park), I'm all for using the service.
Sociologists know that when someone actively checks into somewhere, a more meaningful engagement happens. I've seen that in two Irish venues when the organisers successfully got the swarm badge awarded to more than 50 people who checked in during the same 60-minute period. I've also tapped into Foursquare on my Xperia X10 Android phone when in new places and found useful icons designating chemists, clothing stores (for replacement umbrellas), and takeaways (late night chips). In all of those cases, the map on the phone pointed me to the venues faster than Google Maps. I've also seen Foursquare spoofed by drive-by artists and I've seen Superusers move Foursqaure venues around to prevent people from checking into places (a tactic that helps a few friends hold tight onto their mayors' chains).
As I mark another (temporary) high water mark, I'm focusing my efforts on winning five new badges before the end of August 2010. Please give me hints if you know how I can improve my prospects of achieving that goal. And don't chide me for liking Foursquare, the game.
Wayne Sutton (verified) -- "10 Ways Geolocation is Changing the World" on Social Wayne, 27 July 2010.
Mathew Ingram -- "FACT: Most people have never heard of Location-Based Apps" in Gigaom, 27 July 2010.
Pat Phelan -- "Is Check-in Over?" on his blog, 24 July 2010.
Bonus Link: Niall Fagan -- "What's Foursquare? Simple Guide from a Power User" on the Simply Zesty blog, 31 July 2010.