Unless you've been hiding out under a rock (and even then) chances are you're at least aware of the hit new mobile/social game called Draw Something. From casual game-maker OMGPOP (now officially a part of Zynga), this iOS game is best described as Words With Friends meets Pictionary. Or, put another way, its an asynchronous social game where one player sketches out clues and the other tried to guess what the drawing represents.
More importantly, at least as far as we are concerned, is that this gaming app has been downloaded more than 20 million times in five weeks, according to the company. This past Sunday, OMGPOP says 4.5 million people played Draw Something between 8pm and 9pm ET, and celebrities are Tweeting about it and looking for people to play with.
Whenever we see a novel gaming mechanic, especially one with a strong social element, we have to wonder how else it could be put to use. Draw Something is especially worth studying, as most of the content, and indeed the interaction, is user-generated. The game itself provides a hook into Facebook for finding friends to play with, and, well, a list of words to draw, and that's about it. It's up to players to figure out how to interpret the words into drawings, and then keep up with the back-and-forth picture swapping with friends.
That's a level of engagement that both game makers and marketers usually only dream of. If you were promoting a movie or TV program, imagine the engagement offered by getting fans and potential fans to draw out scenes and characters and quiz each other with them. Or picture (no pun intended) Draw Something recast as a promotional game for a product or service.
To not seem tacked on, it would have to be a very clever hook, to be sure, or offer some kind of rewards system, but it's certainly more inventive than badges and location check-ins. And branded offshoots of social games have certainly worked for Angry Birds (Rio) and Fruit Ninja (Puss in Boots).
A left-field social gaming app hit always gives us a chance to see what new ideas have true viral potential, and how we can expand on them to move beyond pure gaming. If Draw Something the biggest gaming hit of the year, or is it just a fad that will soon dry up? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.