We all need to eat, and dining out is perhaps the most common social activity we do as humans. We go out, we meet with our friends for an hour or two over dinner, and we go home. Most of the time we tend to go to the places we are most familiar with, but with so many restaurants in the world, why do we always settle for the familiar?
A recent app for Facebook that came to my attention is The Lunch Game. The title is a bit deceiving, as it isn’t really a game at all. Its purpose is to save all the food preferences of you and your Facebook friends and allow you to search for dining establishments within a selected area code. The overall point of the application is to assist in deciding where to go out for food sorted by preference, and organize and help plan the event by sending out invitations and taking in preferences from all invited parties such as location and time.
Unfortunately, the game is still under development, so it is little more than a glorified, slightly beefed-up search engine for restaurants. Honestly, it is far too early to say how well this application will do with its limited capabilities at the moment, but I could foresee some significant usage in the future.
Some of the features we expect to see, and in my opinion critical ones, are restaurant reviews, ratings, user comments, and more detailed driving directions. The inclusion of ratings will go a long way in improving the usefulness of The Lunch Game, because it will allow users to search for restaurants that are out of their normal routine and will help them make better choices when it comes to trying new things. However, even with this addition, I do not feel that the potential for this application will still truly be reached.
Yes, it can help organize events and make recommendations, but this only meets its potential when planning larger than normal events or visiting new cities (both of which do not happen all that often). I have lived in my town for a long time, and I all ready know the majority of the places in my area and based on what myself and my friends are hungry for, we make a decision within a few minutes. This is a common practice for most of us.
As I’ve said, there is a lot of latent potential in this app, but for the more common purposes, I can just as easily use Google or a phone book. The Lunch Game needs more social hooks for the most common practices around dining out, like a way to ask friends “Hey, you hungry? What do you want?” Some great ways to improve the usage would be to include things like health facts, menus, or special deals.
Overall, The Lunch Game, once completed, could be an excellent planning tool for Facebook users looking to organize get togethers and/or try new places to eat. Nonetheless, it is far less useful for more common usages that consist spur of the moment outings. If the developers were to create a central hub that contained reviews, menus, specials, recommendations, and more for all restaurants then The Lunch Game might have some big potential!