In order to mitigate the risk of “bad” user generated content these days, developers must limit the amount of freedom users have and guide them in a specific direction. This subtle control gives the users a feeling of freedom, when they are in fact quite limited (more limitations are not bad, just safer).
Currently in beta is PhotoGrab by Amy Jo Kim’s Shufflebrain. This new Facebook application is an excellent example of a user-generated content tool with well executed limitations and a simple core game mechanic. PhotoGrab plays as a photo recognition game meant to train visual acuteness and mental awareness.
When you play, you are presented with an image and in the bottom left, a detail of that image. The player must then click on the portion of the larger image in which that detail originated from using a circular mouse cursor. The closer you get, the more points you earn, and this continues for three pictures with 24 seconds spent on each of them. Upon completion, your score is compared to your friends that have played the game and the app then compares your visual recognition skills to animals that reflect that level of sight. This is the game play that is used for every game, and the tool couldn’t be simpler.
Whenever you start the application, you have the option to create your own PhotoGrab game and upload three images from their Facebook photo album(s). Once selected, you make your detail selections (these selections are the details that the player will be provided with when they play your game). You do this for each of your pictures, save, and voila, anyone can play your very own PhotoGrab game.
The combination of these simple tools and Facebook’s own album limitations not only allows for low risk UGC, but makes it easy for virtually anyone to create their own game. Furthermore, considering that Facebook is the biggest photo sharing site on the web, an application that allows personal creation of interactive albums compounds the social implications beyond most other games currently in circulation. Bottom line, the application is easy to learn and entertaining to play due to personal investment, and really adds a fun flavor to one of the primary uses of Facebook.