PSFK talks to Empire Avenue’s CEO Duleepa Wijayawardhana for insights on the intersection of gaming and social media.
One can only expect the intersection of gaming and social media to become further entwined. Empire Avenue is a stock exchange platform where you can literally buy and sell shares in your ever-expanding network and be rewarded for your strategic thinking and tactful maneuvers.
PSFK talked with their CEO Duleepa Wijayawardhana to talk about the commodification of one’s network and the gaming mechanics driving their platform.
How did the idea for Empire Avenue come about? What motivations/challenges inspired its creation?
As with all good things, the concept for Empire Avenue (EA) came from a conversation. This one was between the three founders – Niall Brown, Dr. Michael Mannion and me. We were talking about the idea that, increasingly, our economic production is based on the creation of content online. In essence our economy was moving online – not just as shops and services, but our personal online presences were being monetized.
Karl Marx says everything we create has value and is a tradable commodity and we thought, “Why not trade on the content we produce?” and so we created the game of EA. What we initially thought is that maybe you could use this value somehow for your own benefit, and what we discovered was that people were using the game of EA and these values to actually connect and find people (what an amazing thing). We had inadvertently given people the ability to network across many networks and countries, openly, deeper than a “follow” or a “like” but less intrusive than a “friend.”
Who is the platform for? How is your community organized?
The platform is for anyone online. Ultimately it is about networking online and having fun in online platforms like Twitter, Facebook and so on. So in essence, any of the 500 million Facebook profiles will probably be right at home on EA! The difference, of course, is that you don’t need to know someone intimately to connect with them. Play the game and eventually you will meet some amazing people that you can then connect with on EA or on any of the other networks! Our community is amazing; we don’t organize it, but we interact as much as possible. We truly value the community’s feedback. It is their actions and thoughts that have shaped the EA of today.
What’s the most interesting response you’ve gotten to your project?
The best part has been watching my own personal friends connect with people from around the world. Just yesterday I was on EA chatting and found two people who had invested in each other and then discovered that they had grown up in the same city. This, to me, is the best most interesting response. We created a platform, but people have used it in their own amazing way and created something unbelievable.
What trends will EA continue to leverage? (i.e ‘gamification of social media’ and ‘virtual/social currency’)
All of the above! We see games in real life all the time. This game helps you be more “better” at being online. We see EA evolving and being available on many platforms; we see social online currency playing a role in offline activities. We’re working on the details of how this will work, but we have cool new ideas and are constantly thinking of ways that we can make EA better and, indeed, make our activities online better.
What trends in your industry make you optimistic about the future.
I love that people are embracing two concepts that make EA possible. We have a generation that is now networking online and is accepting of creating valuable relationships online. We also have a generation that is seeing the value of gaming. Not just shooting things up, but that games can truly help us and make us better in what we do. It’s going to be a fun ride!