For those of you in the know, I play a game, as it were, called FourSquare.
It's something hard to explain (though perhaps this article will help), but in short it's part location based social network - allowing people to 'checkin' and let their friends know where they are - and part game.
Checkins, you see, gain points. Checking into a new local earns a special explorer's bonus, and multiple checkins in the same location over a period of time makes you the mayor of the site (provided you remain number one), and performing certain tasks earn 'badges' (checking into a place with a gym gets you the Gym Rat badge etc). Points are tallied up on a leaderboard that gets cleared up the start of every week.
On a deeper level, the competitive element adds a certain social challenge to one's daily schedule. I find myself planning my trips around finding new places (more on that later). What is more, players can add hints, tips and to-dos tied to the place. Thus, checking into Mendy's here in Crown Heights will show you my tip from the summer about getting the 'Recession Busters' specials. It adds a rather interesting meta-layer to the urban sprawl.
The competition element, as well as the special deals that store owners may give to mayors haven't really caught on in the Frum World (a free drink in Crown Heights? That'll be the day) - though I have battled it out for a few select locals - so over all I've kept my checkins rather low-key. How many times a day does one really need to check into 1414 and 770 already?
A few weeks ago, however, I decided to really run Foursquare to its fullest, and check into every place I stopped by. So, on a rather chilly day I decided instead of taking the train to the Citi-bank in Parkslope, I'd get a little exercise.
First checkin - Eastern Parkway Malls. A stop off at Bank of America to get cash, and then down the parkway I went. Towards the Brooklyn Museum (where I hung out by the fountains and step/bentches for a moment - and checked in) is a small park that everyone seems to pass up. Looking for a sign, I learned it was called the Dr. Ronald McNair Park. Seeing that it hadn't yet been added I put in a new entry for the place and checked in . . . The trip took me an hour and a half, I ended up checking into 13 different places (scoring back the mayorship of of Grand Army Plaza while I was at it), and put me in first place on the Leaderboard.
I was pretty psyched.
By the end of the evening, however, I'd slipped down to the top 5, and once the Weekend flurry came around (with no checkins for me on Shabbos obviously), I was pushed down to 18th place in the city with 'only' 499 points scored through 71 different checkins. The leader? 4568 points with 264 checkins. Come again?
I learned a number of things from the experiment: Either the first place guy must have been doings some fishy checkins . . . or he's one serious urban explorer! However, and more importantly, it helped draw into focus the various landmarks and places in Brooklyn, and the city at large. Places I didn't even know existed seemed to pop out - have you guys ever heard of Mount Prospect Park? It's wedged between the Botanical Gardens and the Library.
Now that the Palm PRE app has come out, all I need them to make is a Kosha Boy badge for checking into kosher restaurants and I'm set . . . that and perhaps a bonus for being mayor of Kolel would be nice. :)
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