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Posts Tagged ‘Zynga’

Can ‘Advocacy Gaming’ Inspire Social Change?

Half the Sky the gameIt’s all about “gamification” these days, right? Video games don’t just entertain us and distract us during down time on the train–they also help brands publicize new campaigns, encourage user engagement and even develop new products and promotional materials.

But can games truly educate the public in the interest of facilitating widespread social change? Games for Change certainly thinks so. We’ll refer to what they do as “advocacy gaming”–and it makes a lot of sense.

The brand’s latest, most visible project is a collaboration with New York Times journalist Nicholas Kristof, best known for his reporting on international human rights and gender equality abuses. It’s called “Half the Sky”, and it’s truly a multimedia effort: the Facebook game debuted this week, but it all started with Kristof’s book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide (co-written with his wife and fellow Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Sheryl WuDunn).

The book inspired a spinoff series on PBS–and then Games for Change got involved with the help of social gaming leader Zynga and other big-name sponsors.

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‘Words With Friends’, ‘Draw Something’ Board Games Aren’t Fooling Anyone

Virtual games based on classic real-world board games have taken the social media world by storm; bored office workers and easily distracted students everywhere play Draw Something (aka Pictionary-on-the-go) and Words With Friends (Scrabble for the attention-span-challenged) obsessively on cell phones and tablets.

Toymaker Hasbro naturally decided to get in on the action by producing tangible, real-world board games based on everyone’s favorite online distractions–which were based on board games in the first place. Confused? So are we.

Anyone notice the right-before-the-holidays release date? The company has even chosen to market these shameless ripoffs as “more social” than their digital versions, since fans can play them at parties with other actual humanoids. But no one seems to be falling for it. Some related Tweets:

Here’s the kicker: the makers of Words with Friends the Board Game are the makers of Scrabble!

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Forbes ‘Richest’ List: No More Social Media Moguls?

This week Forbes released the 30th anniversary edition of its “Forbes 400: The Richest People in America” issue, and the list’s top ten is only surprising for being so boring. Bill Gates? Check? Warren Buffett, The Koch brothers, and the Waltons? Check, check, check.

The only change to the top ten is the addition of Michael Bloomberg, who somehow made lots of money last year while giving New Yorkers an extended “this is why you’re fat” lecture. We are not shocked.

In fact, there’s only one real “richest people” development that interests us: a big decline in the rankings for social media executives. The biggest individual drop, of course, belongs to Mark Zuckerberg, who has probably been grinding the hell out of his teeth every night for the past six months despite his public displays of confidence.

But does this development signal the beginning of the end of the “social media mogul?”

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Facebook Likes Gambling But Won’t Admit That It Has a Problem

But they're so cute! Everyone’s favorite social network lost a little more of its innocence today. Facebook has announced that it will enter the world of online gambling with Bingo Friendzy, a new app designed by gaming bigwigs Gamesys that allows UK-based users aged 18 and older to compete for cash prizes online.

Given recent controversies over Internet gambling in the US (where it is currently illegal), Bingo could be a somewhat touchy subject for Facebook, a company whose public image has suffered in the wake of a disappointing stock performance and other assorted PR headaches. The company’s representatives assured the public that age-gating technology will prevent minors and other “vulnerable people” from playing the games or viewing related ads and also repeatedly stressed the fact that the app will only be available to users in the United Kingdom. Sounds like they’re anticipating a backlash.

AllFacebook covered the issue earlier today, noting that we shouldn’t expect similar offerings in the US anytime soon due to the federal government’s 2011 crackdown on popular poker sites. So will this new revenue source satisfy Facebook’s anxious investors, or will Gibraltar-based Gamesys go the way of Zynga? Only time will tell.

By the way, would you play bingo for cash on Facebook if you could?

Tech RoundUp: New iPads Sell Like Crazy, Stringfly Offers Rewards

Apple has tons of cash. That’s the big takeaway from these stories, which go into detail about the company’s plans to start paying a quarterly dividend after July 1. It will also start a three-year repurchase plan September 30. Add to that the stunning success of the iPad debut on Friday. Judging by the 300 people lined up at San Francisco’s Stockton Street Apple store and similar scenes around the country, Apple fanatics were at it again. Pre-orders reduced the first-day chaos this time around. Company CEO Tim Cook hasn’t said how many iPads were sold (he held a conference call this morning to announce the dividend), but there were hints that it set a record. (*Update: Apple says it sold more than three million iPads over the weekend.)

For mystery shoppers, citizen journalists and other engaged consumers, Engagement Media Technologies has launched Stringfly – as in, stringers on the fly – a free app that allows people to submit content for rewards. For example, take a photo of a display inside a local Starbucks and get a coupon for a free latte. Big-name partners have not yet been announced.

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Baldwin Kind of Apologizes, Zynga Wins

Alec Baldwin has used his column on The Huffington Post to further explain the little incident that became the big international story — his expulsion from an American Airlines flight the other day.

After apologizing to fellow travelers who may have been “inconvenienced” by the brouhaha, he addresses the airline directly.

“I suppose a part of my frustration lay with the fact that I had flown American for over 20 years and was brand loyal, in the extreme,” Baldwin writes. He then continues to talk about the tendency for passengers these days to use their electronic devices until the last minute and the ways in which air travel has become “inelegant.”

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LinkedIn: Just Like Facebook or Twitter, But No One Hangs Out There Much

LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner was no doubt partying like it was 2004 last week when his business social networking site, valued at $9 billion, launched the biggest initial public offering in recent memory. By the time you are reading this, Friday morning, traders will be able to use options as well.

National Public Radio got so excited about the IPO that it suggested this is another tech bubble, just like 2000.

So who is next? Besides Internet radio Pandora, and the usual hints about heavyweights Facebook, Twitter and Groupon, most signs point to Mountain View, California social gamer Zynga, maker of Mafia Wars, FarmVille, CaféWorld and the like, which is expanding so quickly it recently hired 800 new employees. 800! Rumored value: $10 billion.

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Lady Gaga is a PR Stunting Machine

The Lady knows how to promote an album. Today marks the launch of Gagaville, the Lady Gaga-inspired farming game from Zynga. Among other oddities, there’s a new track on the farm for fans to check out. Gaga also stepped in as guest editor, paying a visit to the London HQ of the Metro free paper. Lady Gaga’s first column for fashion magazine V also appeared recently.

Oh and here’s more! She made news over the weekend for being the first on Twitter to reach 10 million followers.

The only thing, surprisingly, that has failed to generate a lot of ink is her video (released during Holy Week) for the song “Judas,” which is filled with references that religious leaders are simply shrugging at.

The album, “Born This Way,” actually comes out next Monday. She’ll be on Letterman to celebrate.

Are Zynga Partnerships the New Hot Thing?

Photo: Reuters

Lady Gaga is creating her own town — “Gagaville” — through a partnership with Zynga, the makers of Farmville, and Clear Channel, which will promote her new album “Born This Way,” released May 23. Between May 17 and 29, fans and digital farmers can visit Gagaville to get new songs and exclusive content from the album, purchase a $25 card to buy in-game items, and check out the unicorns and motorcycle-riding sheep.

“‘GagaVille’ is a sign that artists are going where the fans are, and that is on Facebook, Twitter and playing online games,” Yahoo says. And Lady Gaga isn’t the first to recognize that.

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Great Time to be a Geek

When was the last time you heard the term “hiring boom” anywhere, in any context? It’s been forever, right? Well here come perks like foosball tables, free cappuccino, and onsite dry cleaning again, because we here in the San Francisco Bay Area are at the center of a tech jobs boom, according to USA Today.

If you are a tech pro, you can name your price, the story says. How’s this for enticement? At Zynga, “We have no formal policy for exempt employees. Our vacation policy is ‘please rest and take some days off.’”

Could some of this good fortune open up opportunities for the PR and marketing space?

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