There are productive ways of using social mediaTwitter for customer service, Facebook for coupon campaigns, etcand then there's what happens when companies build something just because everyone else is doing it. Creating Facebook games in particular has become a problem, with some travel companies doing very well and others not so much.
The newest attempt at social gaming comes from Tourism Ireland, which hopes to harness the power of Facebook to get tourists to the Emerald Isle. The game, dubbed "Ireland Town," is built as an explicit Farmville knockoff. Users are tasked with creating their own Irish town in between visiting tourist attractions and defeating challenges. Those who get through are entered in a contest for a four-night stay in Ireland.
And here's where things begin to head south.
The game, it turns out, might not be the best designed piece of social gaming ever created. First there's the content, which some have suggested is a little bit stereotypical: farming potatoes, running a pub, and getting destroyed on St. Patrick's Day. Then there's the design, which is so overflowing with bubbly happiness that it made us want to stab a stranger in the face just to get it off our clothes. One early evaluation describes it as "sickeningly cutesy, eminently pointless and saddled with a ridiculously unimaginative name."
According to reports, "Tourism Ireland hopes to have hundreds of thousands playing its game by this time next month." That's not impossible, since Facebook is so huge that Farmville-type games routinely dwarf all of Twitter in size. But we'd be surprised.