Have you played one of the social capital games?

Bruce WilsonI’m reading two books about social media at the moment. One is “Trust Agents” (Chris Brogan / Julien Smith), about which I Tweeted yesterday “Loving Trust Agents! @ChrisBrogan and @Julien are Jim Collinses of relationship dev for networked professionals.”  (More in a future post.)

The other book, which I’m listening to in an audio edition, is very interesting (although I find the name distractingly silly every time I hear it–sorry, I’m just that immature). It’s “The Whuffie Factor,” by Tara Hunt, where the word “Whuffie” is a coined term meaning social capital. In it Tara Hunt provides many interesting and thought provoking examples of companies that engage with wider communities in beneficial ways using social media.

One intriguing topic that the book touches upon is social reality gaming–played offline, not online–that have virtual economies where people get points (not money) for doing good deeds in the real world. And these deeds can get paid forward by the folks on the receiving end, thus creating a happy circle of viral marketing. (I’m particularly interested in this topic because a friend is designing a system for tracking the “intangible” benefits of networking in professional situations which involve services performed without a contract and/or services not explicitly required under an existing contract.)

I haven’t delved into any of these games in detail, but just in case you have time and are curious, here are the three mentioned in The Whuffie Factor:

AkohaAkoha is the world’s first social reality game where you can earn points by playing real-world missions with your friends. Missions might include giving someone your favorite book, inviting a friend for drinks, or buying a friend some chocolate.” Acts of kindness can also be passed forward, thus virally engaging new players.

Cruel 2 B Kind – A game where people score points by performing random acts of kindness in public, which can also virally engage new players by inviting recipients of the kindness to participate.

Mini Motoring Hearts – BMW’s Mini group gives people spendable karma points with which they can purchase “swag” by answering requests for community volunteers and by performing
random acts of kindness.

A couple of months ago TechCrunch also posted this item about “The Whuffie Bank,” a startup which aims to assess the social capital people have acquired online and give them “spendable” points proportionately.

Does anybody who’s tried one of these care to offer your personal endorsement? I’m sorely tempted to try one myself.

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