FarmVille and other Facebook games are generally considered 'social,' and while that is true in some regards, it doesn't exactly replicate that face-to-face experience you get when you sit down to play cards or a board games with friends and family. Today's 'social' games are social in the same way that sending a text is social -- you send each other messages and respond (or don't) at your convenience.
MyYearbook, a social network geared for young teens, has announced a new 'Live' initiative, which aims to recreate that playing-games-around-the-table feel by letting you see and talk to the people you're playing games with via live chat. Except, instead of playing a game with people you know, this service is designed to get you to play games with people you don't know (and might get to know, because, well, they're cute and/or you just played five hours of UNO online together).
"We bring together players of similar age, gender, and location to harness the natural serendipity of playing Live games," says MyYearbook CEO Geoff Cook," something familiar to anyone who has ever made a friend on the basketball court, at a card table or at a pool hall."
The video chat will work something like this: open a 'Live' enabled game, and you'll be able to select the age, gender and location of people you want to play with, and then you'll be matched with players that meet your specifications. If you don't like your proposed game mates, you can click a giant 'Next' button above the video to move onto the next person, a function borrowed from the short-lived web phenom Chatroulette.
Unlike Chatroulette, you won't be able to keep on clicking 'next' forever. You'll earn or lose karma points depending on how long you play a game, and if you lose them all, you'll be unable to play any games for a short period of time. Also unlike Chatroulette, there will be a no-tolerance policy for users who air X-rated images. Users will be able to report and block other users and MyYearbook is planning on beefing up its moderation team (from 20 to 50) to keep close watch on everyone's activities and has partnered with ThreatMetrix to keep bad users off the site. (Xbox Live offered a similar service with some casual Xbox games, and faced some of the same issues.)
Once you find a set of suitable gaming partners, you'll be able to set a wager on a game using "Lunch Money," MyYearbook's social currency which can be earned by playing games or purchased using real-life cash.
MyYearbook Live will start to roll-out in mid-December and will be integrated into a dozen or so "simple" game such as Gin Rummy, Chess, Checkers, Tic Tac Toe, and a Battleship and Connect Four clone. The social network has also partnered with OMGPop, HeyZap and Viximo to integrate their games into the service.