New iPhone app turns dating into The Game

Aimed at daters who are tired of feeling like a product in a catalog, this app uses game mechanics to help break the ice.

Daniel Terdiman Former Senior Writer / News
Daniel Terdiman is a senior writer at CNET News covering Twitter, Net culture, and everything in between.
Daniel Terdiman
2 min read
The Game, a new dating app for the iPhone. The Game

If you're someone who thinks online dating is a constant slog to find suitable matches, and to avoid feeling like an item in a catalog, The Game could be for you.

Designed to make online dating a little more fun -- and a little less like perusing a catalog -- The Game is an iPhone app built to make meeting potential matches a little less formal and a little more conversational.

The app gets its name from its use of game mechanics. Users download the app and start playing immediately by signing in with their Facebook account, avoiding what can often be a laborious signup process on many dating sites.

But while The Game uses Facebook Connect to validate that users are who they say they are, those playing don't see others' personal information. Instead, they see three potential partners -- selected initially through a demographic and geographical match -- and an ice-breaking multiple-choice question for each. Users are meant to be able to go from downloading the app to answering those initial questions in less than a minute.

The idea is that answering the questions starts a conversation, and the more such interactions a player engages in, the more points they get. Points can be redeemed for digital gifts or compliments. The more points someone has, the more potential partners they can interact with.

According to The Game creator David Semerad, players must continually interact with others. Otherwise, they risk being kicked out. But those who do keep playing will get one new potential partner each day. As players become familiar with each other, they can decide to take their conversation offline, or even to meet in person.

Although players earn points by interacting with others, they can also buy additional points with cash. That is a critical part of The Game's revenue model, since it is free to play.