You are a Twitter addict. You maintain multiple blogs, connect with friends and classmates on Facebook, are never far from your iPhone to check in to Foursquare and are a frequent reviewer on Yelp. In short, you are a social networking junkie.
In that case, probably you don’t need to read this post, because probably you saw it last week when @Mashable covered how to buy and sell shares of you and your friends. But, in case you missed it, Empire Avenue is for you.
Empire Avenue is a game in which you can turn your social media capital (Twitter following, blogs, Facebook friends, every RSS feed you can lay claim to) into virtual currency and buy shares in other people. It’s incredibly addictive — it’s pretty much guaranteed that there are always enough people on at any given moment that there’s always something happening in near-real time. The real-time updates and constant activity make it very tempting to keep hitting the F5 button on your browser and never leave the site. The goal — if there is one — is to amass wealth through expanding your portfolio of other people while building up your own personal share value as much as possible. The more active you are in social media, the more value you have, and the more people may be encouraged to invest in you.
It gets interesting when you consider that you can sign up as a website rather than an individual. This can then be used to add value to your brand — even if it is virtual value. Having played the game over the weekend, already I’ve had people looking at our [ap] site that would never have found us otherwise. Even more intrigue is added when you start getting your friends involved. I started out with 3 invites after receiving my own: who do I give them to? Ideally, the people to give invites to are people already social media addicted; the types that would be most likely to increase in value very quickly. When you actually know the people involved, you can then anticipate the direction their shares might take by knowing what type of person they are or how they might use social media. I have a former co-worker from whom I constantly see Facebook updates from various Facebook games; knowing how much time he devotes to his mafia, farm or whatever the latest Facebook meme happens to be, I spent one of my three invites on him. I was still surprised when, only hours later, I got an in-game notification that he had created an account. I used my knowledge of his gaming habits to become his first investor, purchasing 100 shares of his stock, PHTPNG. You can insert your own experiences here — the point is, it becomes sort of like an augmented reality game in which you can use your anecdotal evidence and knowledge of your friends and connections as insider information if they join the game. As such, it’s easy to see this thing taking off like mad. In the future, there will be businesses, real advertising and potential to earn actual dollars.
Empire Avenue is currently in beta, but you can request an invitation. If they aren’t handing invites out at the moment, follow @ArcanePalette on Twitter and see if we have any invites via @reply and, if so, I’ll send one your way.