The MyCoke Concept
There can be no denying that the Internet has revolutionized the ways in which we communicate and socialise with one another. The mammoth successes of social media platforms attest to this fact, and in all probability, current sites like Facebook and Twitter are only the beginning. It is likely that within a period of less than five years, we will see better designed, more integrated sites that focus on entertainment, friends, and the meeting of new people, all from the comfort of your favourite easy chair and tablet PC. One of the early progenitors of the hybridisation of socialisation and entertainment was MyCoke.
MyCoke (earlier known as Coke Music and Coke Studios) was essentially an online social game that marketed the Coca-Cola brand and its various offerings. The game-play itself centred on the creative activities of mixing music and designing interiors. As an additional feature, if one player was suitably impressed by another’s use of an item in their interior design, appreciation could be shown by giving another player a thumbs-up. Unlike other games, though, where experiencing the game at its best means that you have to buy a flat screen tv, the online format of MyCoke meant that its data flow was restricted.
By creating and earning peer approval, an online participant would generate wealth in the form of “decibels” (the in-game currency). Another way to increase your stock of decibels was to drink virtual Cokes obtained from crates and vending machines, and yet another way was to play other games on the website. To add a layer of real world authenticity to the experience, locations for music performance included London, San Francisco, Mexico, Tokyo, and Goa. It’s a pity that Cape Town, with all its splendour and its flats to rent in Observatory, for example, was left off the list: perhaps future incarnations of realistic games will include our beautiful Mother City.
Combatting the depersonalisation that so often takes hold in role play games, Studiocom, the game’s creator, wanted a player to be able to personalise his or her avatar as much as was possible. To this end, whereas gender remained constant, a player could change and even customise his/her avatar during its life-cycle. Avatars were referred to as virtual egos or V-egos, which, appropriately, was also the name of an additional game found on the website.
In V-ego San, the game of rock-paper-scissors (also known in South Africa as ching-chong-cha) was brought together with Sumo wrestling. Players would compete against one another, each trying to outwit the other (as is the typical case in rock-paper-scissors as it is a strategy game more than a game of random luck). Points would be awarded for beating an opponent and various procedures were designed in the case of draws.
The second additional game appearing on the MyCoke website was Uncover the Music. The player was essentially tasked with matching beat patterns that were uncovered in a jungle-ruin setting. Matching pairs correctly would earn points, while uncovering a snake would end a participant’s turn. To balance out the snake-penalty, if a player uncovered a frog, the frog would act as an immediate match, thus earning the player more points. The player who had won the most points at the end of the game (that is, when all tiles were matched) received decibels for use in Coke Studios.
The remaining three games on the website included: MyCoke Coaster (two teams were pitted against one another in a game format that exercised memory and speed); Recycler (players were required to move furniture around a factory setting avoiding various obstacles); and Quiz Game (as the name suggests, players would be quizzed on a variety of topics earning points for correct answers: points, in turn, were redeemed for decibels).
From a marketing point of view, the MyCoke was a definite success, and the combination of the social aspect of the site and its entertainment value will prove a powerful model for dynamic social media site design in the future.