FDA Center for Tobacco

Smoking is bad. Smoking may eventually kill you. Then everyone says in unison “duh”. This is not new information – we all know smoking is not good for our health. So why are 19% of U.S. adults current cigarette smokers? Maybe it started as peer pressure, stress relief, a social event, etc. everyone’s story is different. I personally have never been a smoker so I don’t know firsthand what it’s like to have that addiction and what it would take for me to quit.

Non-smoking has begun to make a positive shift. It’s no longer “cool” to smoke, and actually a lot of people look down upon it. Heck it’s hard enough to find a public place that you are permitted to smoke in or around anymore. And smoking can be a deal breaker for a relationship or even a job.

I would love to help smokers quit smoking but I just don’t see that as a realistic goal unless they are motivated to change themselves. That is why I want the FDA to use Facebook Open Graph capabilities to prevent younger people and teens from ever starting to smoke.

Social gaming is popular- In the US alone over 100 million people play on social networks. Zynga has more than 220 million active users each month. I think the FDA can create a game that is compelling enough for it’s audience of impressionable teens to come back everyday.

To have a broader appeal I suggest that two games be developed:

Game one: Sims Social mixed with Farmville (Or something similar) This game would allow people to play out virtual lives. Here’s the catch, you have to keep your avatar healthy. So just like harvesting your crop every six hours, you have to take your person on a walk, or some other form of physical activity. There could also be a healthy food option where they have to eat so many fruit and veggies throughout the day. If you do not keep your avatar healthy and in a timely manner they will be forced to smoke a cigarette. The more cigarette they have to smoke the less points, money, purchasing power, etc they have.

Game two: A sci-fi game or virtual fighting game. This game takes on the same idea as above but when you lose a fight your character will  have to smoke a cigarette. Smoking a cigarette in this game will also have negative effects whether it slower reactions times or stamina in your next fight, point reductions, less medal’s earned, etc.

Smoking in the US has been on a slow but steady decline, maybe by utilize social gaming we can speed up that decline.








There’s Nothing Casual About Smartphone Gaming Addiction

No, this isn’t a wildlife print by John James Audubon. It’s just a bird that I drew this morning on my smartphone.

If you guys haven’t downloaded Draw Something yet, get on it. First of all, this brilliantly simple turn-based pictionary game will provide you with hours and hours of fun (outside of class, of course). Secondly, there are a number of elements contributing to this game’s success worth noting. And third, I want some more people to play with. (As you can see by my screenshot, I am playing with a random user because my 4 friends who play are taking too long in between turns.)

Draw Something was downloaded over a million times in the first 10 days it was released. As of now, the game is seeing 10 million new drawings every 24 hours. That is a lot of action.

This explosion of growth was made possible because Draw Something was released as a truly cross-platform app. Players can connect with friends via Facebook or Twitter, as well as invite people to play by email. Android and iOS phone/tablet users can play against one another. Also, Instagram has proven to be a surprise marketing engine because Draw users like to post screenshots of their pictures. (It is also worth noting that you are not required to connect with a social network to use the app, if agreeing to the Facebook permissions creeps you out) Because the game made a simultaneous splash on both major mobile platforms with options to connect with the two largest social networks, there was never any friction in the word-of-mouth machine. Some applications lose momentum when they roll out for the iphone and Android users must sit on their hands for another couple months while their version is in development, or vice versa.

The developers, OMGPOP, were smart to incorporate a variety of ways to monetize this app. The free version cashes in on banner advertising. Presumably these ads will have a much higher click-through-rate because they will leverage information collected from the user’s social network. Players can also buy virtual goods such as new colors, effects, and bombs for simplifying turns. This ability to collect additional revenue should allow the game to stay profitable longer by adding value for hardcore gamers without turning off more causal users. Interestingly, CEO Dan Porter reports that the largest source of revenue is upgrading to the $0.99 version of the game. The premium version is ad-free, with additional words, and a few extra gold coins to get you started. Overall, it is not all that different from Draw Free. In the end, it seems that the game is so addicting that users don’t think twice about shelling out the for the dollar upgrade. Right now, Draw Something is seeing 5-digit daily revenue.

Draw Something’s success is not unique. A post this week on the Facebook Developer’s blog highlights the success of casual arcade-style gaming. This is one of the oldest app categories on Facebook and continues to be a leader in growth. These games are especially beneficial to Facebook because of their high engagement factor. Users keep logging on to play, boosting page-views and subsequently increasing opportunities for users to see new advertising. In an effort to encourage developers to build upon these games’ success, Facebook points out a few strategies for success:

  • Bring friends into the game by promoting healthy competition
  • Allow people to brag about their accomplishments or highscores by posting leaderboards to timelines
  • Schedule weekly tournaments, giving users a specific reason to keep coming back
  • Promote collaborative competition and gifting by using frictionless requests

Good game mechanics are proving to be an essential quality for an app’s success, and Facebook is continually doing everything it can to create opportunities for developers to drive discovery and re-engament. Digging a little deeper into your favorite time-waster may reveal some great ideas for how companies can use applications to connect and stay connected with their most valuable constituents.