Do you like the idea of going to a bar, but hate actually going to a bar? A new Facebook app called Shaker might be the thing for you.
Shaker, a startup out of Israel is grabbing a lot of attention today as it was announced yesterday that it had beaten out 30 other startup pitches to win this year's TechCrunch Disrupt.
Shaker is a social gaming experience that allows Facebook users to meet up with people from the privacy of their own homes. Basically, it's a virtual bar - complete with dancing, music, drinks and that awkward feeling you get when you approach someone and they immediately walk away. It's all there.
When you allow access to your social graph via app permission, what you are doing it populating Shaker with all the information that it needs to work as a social experience. You can set your setting to three distinct privacy settings, each one allowing a little more info about you to be accessed by other bar patrons.
Apparently, the buzz around the app has been pretty huge, as the app had to turn people away after complaints that the virtual bars were overcrowded. I was able to join the party after the app told me that they had opened it up to 1000 people as part of the beta testing.
So I entered the only available locale at the time, the TechCrunch Loft. Your avatar, which you control via mouse clicks, sports your current profile pic above its head. The virtual bar is like a real bar in that its crowded and there is trance music playing in the background. Apparently, users are able to select the songs that play in the bar. That being said, whoever selected the song that was playing while I was in there must have been slightly sadistic.
Once inside the bar, you can click on the other patrons to either view info about them or initiate contact. The bar is not full of your friends - but is full of people from all over the world.
When you click on someone, you are given the option to view their dating profile, start a chat, private message them, or buy them a drink at the bar.
Selecting to view more info opens up "Shaker Mobile" at the bottom left corner of the app window. There you can look at a selection of photos of the person you're interested in (which photos are up to privacy setting), see their favorite books, music, and other info as well as see what you guys have in common based on what you have "liked" and your personal information. You can also see if you have any friends in common.
Walking around the bar, common interests pop up under people's icons, For instance "Ali Smith - likes The Beatles and Beer." If that girl actually existed on there, I probably would have talked to her.
I ended up walking around for a while, checking out everyone's sweet dance moves before plopping down on one of the sofas and waiting for someone to initiate contact - so basically no different from my real bar activity when I was single.
I can definitely see how Shaker could get pretty huge - it's like a modern day chat room but with a hell of a lot more information. No asking "a/s/l" and praying that the 23/f/NY you find isn't really a 52/m/MO. There's a pretty unique feel to it, and the whole "things in common" feature is actually quite helpful when it comes to making a decision about who to approach. People will definitely find it fun. I'm just not that sure how effective the app will prove to be in sparking actual real relationships.
But maybe that's not the point.
The app is causing a little bit of controversy among those who say it shouldn't have won Disrupt. The app currently has a 2.8 star rating out of 5 on Facebook. Some of the comments include "meh" and "if this is the disruptive idea then god save the earth." But other comments applaud the new app. So it goes with most every new app or game - it's going to have haters and lovers.
It will probably not take long for the virtual drinks to cost actual dollars and the virtual jukebox to run on actual quarters.
Here are the guys behind Shaker discussing their game. This vid was posted on Robert Scoble's YouTube channel -
What do you think? Is this an interesting idea? Let us know in the comments.