Social Connectedness / 2013
What is the future of LA in 2050? The evolve.la mobile social game lets the citizens of Los Angeles decide for themselves, while discovering LA in an immersive and participatory way using their iOS or Android mobile device.
The evolve.la social game consists of two components:
MOBILE SOCIAL GAME
The evolve.la app allows users to become activists through the use of location-based social media in order to support 8 causes based on the 8 LA2050 indicators.
By syncing their Facebook accounts with the app, evolve.la scans social network activity to score points in one of 8 indicator categories:
Education: The state of educational institutions, libraries, and palaces of learning.
Environmental Quality: Air quality, the state of parks and forests.
Health: Access to health care as well as the personal health of Los Angelinos.
Social Connectedness: Engagement with the community and communication with your fellow Los Angelinos.
Arts & Cultural Vitality: Museums, theater, street art.
Income & Employment: Entrepreneurialism, commerce, and job creation.
Housing: Affordable housing, homeless issues.
Public Safety: Crime rates, natural disasters.
When the user first runs the app, she picks a team aligned with one of the 8 categories. The user is identified in the game with a badge all players belonging to that category have as their avatar. The app shows a map centered on the user’s current location that highlights locations nearby associated with one of the 8 indicators.
Via monitoring check-ins, tagged photos and hashtags, users “vote” with their social actions. By checking in at a Library points will be awarded in the Education category, for example. Or, tagging a picture at a farmers market scores points in the Health category (for organic food). Through the course of the game, points are tallied up in each of the 8 categories. At the end of the game’s run, a donation will be made to a charity related to the winning indicator.
LIVE MONTHLY SCAVENGER HUNT
To promote competitiveness and encourage personal exploration of the issues in real-world locations, users can also participate in live monthly challenges to score bonus points for their cause of choice.
Each month, the app will launch two quests related to one of the 8 indicator categories. These quests will deploy as scavenger hunts in the Los Angeles area, showcasing real-world locations.
Using Augmented Reality technology, players scan landmarks, signs, and other features at real Los Angeles locations to receive the next clue. Once the final clue has been scanned, extra bonus points are awarded to the player’s cause.
The app encourages the exploration of Los Angeles as well as social connections between its citizens. A message board and Facebook group for evolve.la allow players to discuss their favorite causes, strategies for completing quests, as well as locations to check-in to. This fosters a community around improving Los Angeles, thus addressing the social connectedness indicator.
What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?
FLARB LLC is one of the earliest developers and publishers of mobile games and content in the West. In addition to consulting on mobile and social games FLARB recently created Camera Birds (www.camerabirds.com), a unique 3D birdwatching simulator for iOS and Android that uses Augmented Reality technology to bring its virtual birds into the real world.
FLARB LLC's mobile games often do not fit the mold of traditional entertainment. One of FLARB's more popular experiments in pushing boundaries is Brick Buddies (www.flarb.com/bb), a hilarious satire of social games that has been favorably reviewed by such media outlets as The Guardian. Creating apps as a platform for social activism is a natural next step.
FLARB LLC has the expertise in the design and development of mobile apps as well as the Augmented Reality technology necessary to build this application.
Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.
Ralph Barbagallo(www.ralphbarbagallo.com), is a veteran game developer who has built everything from educational games to elaborate MMORPGs. Ralph has been immersed in mobile development since the early 2000s and frequently consults and lectures on the topic of mobile game development.
April Arrglington (www.thearrglingtonjump.com) is a Transmedia Producer passionate about interactive design, immersive storytelling, and strategizing best points of convergence for intellectual properties, fandom phenomena, and multiple platforms. April’s latest project, The Miracle Mile Paradox Alternate Reality Game, involved the deployment of an online universe and an ongoing live experience that lasted through the Summer of 2012.
Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?
The app will collect metrics on its users, not just in recording social actions but in how and when users use the app. By analyzing this data, we can determine if users have engaged enough with the game, and see if their actions have raised the social network profile of Los Angeles locations and landmarks through measured check-ins and other game activity.
How will your project benefit Los Angeles?
evolve.la creates a conversation around the different social causes, while reconnecting to significant places and landmarks in Los Angeles. In addition, it engages the community to think about Los Angeles and how we can change the city for the better in the future, while encouraging a common goal of improving our cultural vitality and shared surroundings.
At the end of the game, the winning indicator category raises awareness by benefiting a charity of choice relating to its cause. A portion of the budget for the game will be devoted to this donation.
In addition, all the data collected from the game will be released in a case study that will present the measurable behavior of the users in the present, and how new technologies will change the evolution of our social connectedness in the future.
What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?
In 2050, we should see large advancements in the indicator that wins at the end of this social gaming experiment. The people’s voice has spoken, and hopefully it won’t take over 30 years for its actions to be seen.
In addition to this--we should see a continuing conversation fostered by improved social connectedness among Los Angelinos about the betterment of the city and its indicators. This can be measured by social media sentiment analysis as well as activity in apps such as evolve.la.