Your mother always told you not to talk to strangers, but if you stayed apart from everyone the world, how would you ever get friends? Have a relationship? Meet awesomely cool subway-mates to get new experiences with?
Playdo.pe is trying to address this with the company's new app of the same name. It works by using your GPS signal to locate people around you, offering you the chance to interact with them virtually in a Tinder-like fashion. The app is for gaming, not dating—but a real-life meeting could be possible afterwards if you so choose.
Playdo.pe is not new—it's been running for six months now—but as an app trying to make inroads into uncharted ground, it has enjoyed good saturation so far. So let’s dig a little deeper into how it actually works.
First, Playdo.pe connects to both your GPS and your Facebook account. Then it takes this data and invites you to play games with people who are within an approximate 500-meter radius.
Push alerts show you nearby Playdo.pe players, and based on their profile pictures you can choose whether to invite them to play, or swipe "no." The mix of Facebook friends and randoms within the app is designed so you can “meet people you don’t know yet, but should,” to quote the company's web site.
Then you play a variety of picture-based trivia games, which from the looks of it are a mixture of Words With Friends and Pictionary. You can message the other player during the game.
But the real hook is that you then get 24 hours to stay in touch with your opponent—who you already know is a total hottie/awesomely funny guy based on that Facebook profile photo. Plus, now you know if they're a sore loser (not an attractive quality). To facilitate real-life meetings, Playdo.pe often pops up the suggestion, “Buy the winner a drink.” Why, thank you very much.
So why just 24 hours to stay in touch?
“The reason we don't keep this indefinitely is because we believe that serendipitous moments have a short contextual lifespan. A connection either happens shortly after or it doesn't,” Playdo.pe's creators write on their web site.
Another interesting feature of the app is that it detects how often you pass by different strangers. For instance, the dude you see every day on the bus is now added to your virtual contact list if he has the app. Great for getting to know those strange but familiar faces, less good if crazy cat lady starts using it.
So far Playdo.pe is only available in New York City and some college campuses, but if this app gets popular, the company plans to roll it out throughout the U.S. Plus, potentially even an Android app? We can hope.
I like the idea—it’s a nice way of allowing people to feel more connected to the world around them. And in a city like New York where you can feel lonely among many, this is a way to let you make friends without any awkward romantic overtones.
Of course, the selection process can feel a little like Hot or Not, but the gamer aspect of it should appeal to those who shy away from Tinder. (Obviously, it should also appeal to hardcore trivia fans.)
Note: The first point about talking to strangers is why Playdo.pe is rated for those age 18 and older. Its creators agree that if you're going to talk to random dudes, you should at least be of a consenting age.