Clever Foursquare Hack Turns New York City Into A Giant Game Of Risk

The board game Risk, in which players maneuver plastic armies on a map in order to achieve “world domination,” has firmly occupied one corner of nerdom for about fifty years. Foursquare stationed itself in another more tech-oriented corner of that same kingdom about two years ago. Now, at last, the two categories of nerdom meet.

“World of Fourcraft” uses Foursquare and Google Maps APIs to turn New York City into a giant game of Risk. Users decide which team they are on by swearing allegiance to one of New York City’s five boroughs. Checking into a neighborhood on Foursquare is the online game’s equivalent to placing plastic man on a country in the board game. An algorithm decides who owns each neighborhood using the number of people who have checked into it on each team. There are currently about 100 players.

“We wanted to make foursquare more compelling for long-term use,” says Ricky Robinett, one member of the seven-person team that created the game during a weekend hackathon at New York’s General Assembly. “[On Foursquare] you have a weekly total that gets swiped at the end of the week. This keeps adding up.”

Three days in, it looks like Manhattan is winning the game, which took the “Best Location Hack” award at the hackathon. Not that winning gets you coupons or anything.

“There are no prizes. There are no celebrations. The only reward is the feeling of pride you normally only get from being re-tweeted,” explain the rules on the site.

Robinett says that eventually he wants to borrow a “level up” feature from World of Warcraft that would make more-frequent users’ checkins more effective at claiming neighborhoods for their teams.

At which point the nerdverse might just explode.

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