If you like the board game Taboo, you'll love AOL's new mobile social game, Clucks.
If you're not familiar with Taboo, it's a card game where you have a limited amount of time to describe a word to your teammate. The catch is you can't use the word itself, or a selection of additional words on the card.
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Clucks [iTunes link] modernizes that concept for the world of smartphones, video and social gaming. Think of it as "Taboo With Friends."
The iPhone game works like this:
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You are given a word to describe, along with a list of other words that you cannot say. Then you have 12 seconds to describe the word on video, taken with your phone's camera.
The next part is where the game gets awesome. AOL has embedded Nuance's voice recognition technology into the app, and it scans your video to make sure you didn't say any of the forbidden words. If you're caught cheating, you get penalized.
Your friend then watches your recording and has a limited amount of time to guess the right answer. Your opponents' reactions are recorded, and you can see their reactions on playback on the next turn. It's pretty cute.
AOL has teamed up with Viddy to allow users to post their reactions or clues to the social video site. This is the first time that Viddy has allowed publisher access to its API.
The game is incredibly addictive. I had a blast with the pre-release version this week. It's the perfect kind of mobile social game, since it can be played asynchronously -- yet you still get to feel like you're playing with another human being.
The theme of the game is barnyard animals, hence the title Clucks and the appearance of roosters, chickens and donkeys.
According to Sol Lipman, VP of AOL's mobile first division, that's because everyone on his team has a barnyard animal obsession.
AOL's Push for Mobile
When I spoke to Limpan about the game, I told him I was surprised to see this kind of content from AOL. Sure, the media company has drifted into the mobile space -- notably with its Editions social reading app -- but this is certainly a new avenue for the company.
Lipman says that the goal of the app is not just to let AOL break into the mobile gaming space, but to focus on social video. This is a subject near and dear to Lipman's heart.
Prior to joining AOL (via the acquisition of his startup, Rally Up), Lipman co-founded 12seconds.tv -- basically Viddy and Social Cam, but circa 2009, before everyone had phones with video cameras.
He sees gaming as a place where social video can really take off, especially in the turn-based realm. One of the limiting factors of traditional social games, he points out, is the lack of human interaction.
It doesn't hurt that video is the perfect fit for a game like Clucks.
Lipman says that Clucks is just the start for the Mobile First division at AOL and that his team has other projects in the pipeline.
Lots of people are in the mobile social gaming space, but very few are making money off the game. Most of the time, the revenue model is built-around in-app ads, in-app purchase and promoted game elements.
For Clucks, AOL is not going to have advertising in the game -- not in the traditional sense. That means no pop-ups, no ad banners, no video pre-roll.
Instead, the goal is the goal is to partner with advertisers to create organic tie-ins within the game itself.
Sony Pictures is a launch partner for Clucks. The studio will promote films in Bonus Rounds of the games, by having actors from those projects describe a word.
"We wanted to make it as complimentary to the game as possible," Lipman said.
This offers better value for advertisers too -- the more natural the integration, the more users might pay attention to the message.
Of course, for this strategy to work, Clucks will need a large user base. Having spent some time with the game, I don't think that'll be a problem.
One of the nice surprises to the game is that it supports the new iPhone 5 screen. Lipman told me the team was hard at work creating new assets as soon as the iPhone 5 was announced, ensuring it would be ready for launch.
I also really like the way Viddy is integrated into the game. Players can earn additional coins -- which can let them do things like "try again at guessing a clue" -- by sharing their reactions to Viddy. But it doesn't feel forced.
Is it the next Draw Something? I have no idea. For now, however, it's something I can certainly see myself playing in my down time.
Clucks is free and available for the iPhone. What do you think of the game? Let us know in the comments.
This story originally published on Mashable here.
- Arts & Entertainment