In the age of social media, what gets you to check your Facebook page more frequently? For many people that’s Parking Wars, an Online game that is thought to have generated hundreds of millions of page views. On any given day, say the Parking Wars developers, about five percent of users are active on most Facebook apps. But for PW, around 30 to 40 percent of its registered users interact with it on any given day. It is said to compel people to get up at midnight to check their “streets.” And really, that’s for the people who go to bed before midnight.
While most games require players to be on Facebook at the same time as their competitors, Area/Code created the game to engage people who are visiting their Facebook pages at different times. This asynchronous interaction has been much discussed but has not yielded much in the form of apps or games. In PW, players “earn money” by parking on other players streets and also by ticketing people parked illegally on their street. In other words the key is to be vigilant at different times, which leads to interaction with Facebook or whatever social media, more frequently. According to Slavin, parking activity increases around lunch time and people rush to park on a street where the owner is on vacation.
But Parking Wars is also about creative advertising. The game came into existence when the Arts & Entertainment network hired Area/Code to create a game to advertise their show about the world of parking meter monitors and impound lots. It led to a successful launch and now the folks at Area/Code are said to be working on iPhone apps and more games that involve asynchronous interaction. Slavin is convinced that games have replaced other media such as television news watching or newspaper reading that once consumed our grandparents’ leisure time. We’re all eagerly awaiting new games to play.
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