Tag Archives: Games

PucaTrade is a Collaborative Way To Trade Magic Cards

15 Apr

Image © 2013 PucaTrade

It’s been well-established by this point that I am a fan of Magic: The Gathering. There’s just something about shuffling up your deck and launching a barrage of monsters, weapons, and sorcery at an opponent’s tender, innocent face. The only downside is that the cards themselves, the fundamental building blocks of the entire game, are not cheap. It’s not uncommon to see highly-played cards for some formats valued at $100 each.

PucaTrade.com aims to change the game by making the process of trading cards between players crazy simple, and it’s doing it through crowdsourcing. The driving concept is that of Collaborative Consumption, where people share things they own instead of maintaining permanent ownership. Zipcar has used this concept to great success with their car-sharing service, and PucaTrade extends the concept to Magic cards.

With PucaTrade, users mail out cards they own that other users also happen to want. In return, they receive some amount of “PucaPoints”, which in turn can be spent on cards the user wants. It’s dead simple, and PucaTrade plays fair by keeping a constant eye on card values and making sure no users are getting ripped off by uneven trades. In another act of crowdsourcing, the site developers have teamed up with the users to create PucaBot. The site-owned “user” identifies and buys surplus cards in order to even out the economy and make a little money to keep the site running.

It’s a solid concept. People who play Magic often have dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of unplayed and unwanted cards in their collections that would be better off in the hands of someone who’d actually appreciate them. PucaTrade also circumvents the entire economy of online card shopping, where prices can vary drastically and shipping snafus can prevent cards from arriving for days. With PucaTrade, the grassroots approach means its users can send and receive a steady stream of cards to each other at no cost except postage. Brilliant.

PucaTrade is growing quickly, and has already traded over $80,000 worth of cards between its users. They are currently doing an Indiegogo project to get out of beta and add some really great features to the site, including a redesigned interface and more tools for user interaction. If you’re as into Magic as I am, or if you just think these cards are getting crazy stupid expensive, donate to the campaign and/or register on the website and start trading. You get free PucaPoints if you share the campaign on Facebook or Twitter, too!

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It’s Back! Magic: The Gathering Announces You Make The Card 4

12 Mar

Image © 1995-2013 Wizards of the Coast LLC

Turns out the number-one cure for the Mondays is your favorite company announcing the revival of an incredibly popular and successful crowdsourcing campaign. Game company Wizards of the Coast announced today that their trading card game Magic: The Gathering, of which I am a huge fan, would be beginning the fourth iteration of their You Make The Card (YMTC) project, starting immediately. Using the ideas and voting power of their fans, Wizards will create a brand-new card that will be released in a future set.

Like the last few contests, YMTC4 will involve an iterative approach. One decision at a time will be presented to the fans, and they will discuss, submit ideas, and vote on that aspect before moving onto the next one. This campaign starts with deciding what card type this card will be; the first three campaigns began by choosing the card’s color or art. It’s similar to the approach Nissan used when soliciting the crowd’s help to design a car.

I’ve previously discussed the past YMTC campaigns, so I’ll take this space to briefly reiterate why they were so popular and such a good example of a company effectively reaching out to their audience. Wizards expertly hits all three of the tenets of successful crowdsourcing:

  • Since Magic research and development is usually very secretive and confidential, fans are incentivized by the rare and significant opportunity to be this closely involved
  • The iterative way in which the contest is compartmentalized prevents the people running it from being overwhelmed with too many disparate ideas, and ensures that each part of the card will work properly with the previously-designed parts
  • Hosting the campaign on the official website ensures that only people who are already sufficiently interested in Magic will find it, and that they will also have access to the massive archive of articles about Magic design that are hosted there.

I can’t wait to see what kind of crazy card we end up with when this contest is over. The first three cards designed by YMTC were fun to build decks around and provided effects that were previously underexplored in the game, so there’s no reason to believe this one won’t do the same.

Get in on the contest while it’s fresh and new by voting in the first phase and following the contest on Twitter under the #ymtc tag, and then pop down to the comments to tell me what kind of cool card you hope will be designed in the upcoming weeks.

 

EDIT 3/18/12 4:30pm EST: Thank you Maro for retweeting my article, and welcome all followers of Maro on Twitter!

Milk.ly Assigns Real-World Quests and Rewards For Local Errands

27 Jun

If you’ve ever played a role-playing video game, you are familiar with the concept of a “Quest Board”. Townsfolk post their problems for you, the Hero, to solve and consequently collect the reward.

Milk.ly is attempting to replicate this in the real world. It’s currently in beta, and mostly limited to the UK, but it’ll open up when more people sign on.

Milk.ly

The concept is simple, fun, and will likely prove effective. If you have a small, local task that needs doing, but you don’t want to do it, you post it to the website. “Pick up my groceries from the store.” “Bake some cookies for our Bake Sale tomorrow.” “Help assemble this IKEA table.”

Along with the task, you post a reward, the remaining time left to complete it, and some location and description details. The site lists prices as “suggested”; Milk.ly accepts on-site payments through credit cards, but I think it’s more likely that users will simply resort to cash in cases where it’s required that they meet face-to-face.

This platform could get a lot of traction. Many users will both post and complete tasks, creating a veritable barter-based local economy for minor labor. It’s great for kids and teens who have lots of spare time and not a lot of spare money, or for grown-ups who have the exact opposite problem.

I’m personally very excited for Milk.ly. I’ve had this exact same idea in the past, and now I’m somewhere between excited that it’s a reality, and disappointed that I wasn’t the one to bring it to fruition. I signed up for the beta because I want this in my neighborhood for when I’ll eventually need help moving. You should sign up too if you want to see it in your community!

Gambitious Seeks to Reinvent Gaming Industry

7 Jun

Two gaming posts in a row? It must be geek Christmas. This time it’s not about weird-shaped controllers, though; it’s about Gambitious, a crowdfunding platform specifically for video game pitches.

Gambitious - Pitch, Get Funded, Develop

Quick rundown for those unfamiliar with crowdfunding. On this platform, aspiring game developers post their idea for video games they’d like to make, usually accompanied by concept art, a few graphical mock-ups, or a preview video. If the game looks good, people invest in the developer; at a certain level, the game is fully funded, goes into the development process proper, and eventually becomes a full game. Think Kickstarter.

What sets this site apart from other crowdfunding sites is that it calls to attention the fact that the gaming industry, as a whole, isn’t that great. It’s plagued with shady business practices, overly harsh deterrents for piracy, and a deluge of terrible, zero-effort games. A model like Gambitious could turn such an industry on its head.

Short list of ways Gambitious trumps the current industry model:

  • Allows gamers to not only help develop games they want to play, but to own stock/shares in their success
  • Close interactions with the audience during the development process lead to better gameplay
  • Easier to use crowd talent, such as game music or artwork
  • Piracy deterrents can be relaxed since the game doesn’t have millions of dollars riding on it
  • Brings gaming back to the community instead of a faceless, hard-to-trust corporate entity
  • Further solidifies the theory (supported by games like Minecraft) that it takes neither a big studio nor a big budget to design instantly classic games

Long story short, I’m excited, and I’ll be keeping an eye on Gambitious to see if anything great shakes out. If you’re a gamer, join me in the comments to further poke holes in the gaming industry.

Gaming Accessory Asks Players to Help Design Next Version

5 Jun

XtendPlay for Xbox360

If you’re a gamer, you potentially realize the funny-looking device up there as your greatest ally. If you’re not a gamer, let me bring you up to speed. That’s an XtendPlay, a device you can put on your game controller and then rest on your lap or belly to make extended game sessions more comfortable. Despite its looks, it reportedly works great, but Xwerx, the company that makes them, thinks they can do better. Enter the crowd.

From June 4th to July 30th, Xwerx is holding a $10,000 contest to help design the next version of the XtendPlay. Purchase the device, use it for a period of time sufficient to form an opinion, and send that opinion off to Xwerx, and if they use your idea, you get the money. Pretty cut-and-dry stuff; brands have used similar models for all manner of contest-based crowdsourcing initiatives.

But is it the best decision for Xwerx? I say there’s room for improvement. I think the contest model is a good idea, but I’m not a fan of how all the entries are hidden and seen only by the Xwerx execs. We’ve seen in the past how cool stuff designed by a crowd can be, so I think it would behoove Xwerx to put some of their favorite suggestions on their website and have people comment on them. What may seem like a great idea to the execs might be shot down by the crowd, and vice-versa. Transparency and dialog, guys. R&D is a process, and you may as well involve everyone.

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