Race for the Gold: The Winter Olympics Just Got Social

Last week, we took a look at a social sports web site called NFL Canada Social Games, powered by Playaction. Making use of Facebook Connect, its collection of social, prediction-style games created a friendly competition, of sorts, complete with the opportunity to win prizes. Playaction now has a Canadian sports sequel of sorts, a gaming app for 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics!

With the Opening Ceremonies beginning just this weekend, our NFL Canada friends have released, in tandem with the Vancouver Olympics, an official, social, and bilingual prediction game called Race for the Gold or Visez L’or.

Empowered through Facebook Connect, players are able to seamlessly sign in to the site and make predictions on upcoming events. Each list is based on the games scheduled for that day (though you can view previous days), and users can see a basic gauge next to their votes representing how others are voting. And, of course, all of this can be published to your Facebook feed.

Unfortunately, unlike NFL Canada, there are no prizes to be won here. However, based on your Facebook profile when you connect, the site assigns you to your home country, and your profile picture is accompanied with the corresponding flag. As one might expect, the game has leaderboards (which can be sorted by overall, Facebook friends, or just by country), and the inclusion of flag icons creates a small sense of national pride. Considering it a virtual Olympics for those of us that can’t ski… or just hate the cold.

In line with this digital competition, the site also awards the top three pickers each day with interactive medals – obviously gold, silver, and bronze – that is displayed in a separate, leaderboard-like section aptly named “Medals.”

The social implications for Race for the Gold are simple, but as with the NFL Canada website, it does create a sort of environment reminiscent of friends making predictions in a living room. Only this time, it’s international.

To that end, that international prowess is what is most important. Again, Race for the Gold was created directly with the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. Not only does this mean that the overall site has information about the events themselves, but it represents the most recent social, international, and official use of Facebook to connect people.