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"Who's Got Game?" Finalists Announced

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Posted March 12, 2009 - By Stephen Johnson

GamesBeat

Techy Web publication Venturebeat is hosting its first gaming conference called GamesBeat 09 on March 24, 2009 at the Mission Bay Conference Center on UCSF’s campus in San Francisco. Besides talks with world game luminaries like president of Sony Online Entertainment, John Smedley and X-Play's Adam Sessler, Venturebeat is also hosting a contest for innovative start-up ideas in games.

The finalists in the "Who’s Got Game" competition at GamesBeat 09 run the gamut from the impressive (Akoha applies ARG principles to social causes) to the practical (Switch Games provides gamers an easy platform to exchange games -- more on that site here), to WTF? (RocketOn adds a "parallel layer on top of ordinary Websites that allow users to 'walk' across the sites with virtual characters or avatars.")

Each of the seven finalists will get five minutes to present their pitch on stage at the conference. The audience will select a People’s Choice winner, while a panel of industry-insider judges will pick their own favorite. 

Check out the choices with official descriptions under the cut, and tell us which is your favorite in the comments section!

Akoha –  This company takes the alternate reality game genre and turns it toward good causes. Players can play the game in the physical world with mobile, web, and other media such as playing cards. They conduct missions with friends and strangers. The mission goals can be kind or charitable acts in the real world. You just might be able to do good at the same time you’re having fun.

Exponential Entertainment – This company comes with a veteran team that includes the architects of Scene It?, a DVD movie quiz game that has generated more than $500 million in sales. Exponential is now creating social games on a variety of game platforms that entertain people through immersive, movie-based games. Called HollywoodPlayer, these games will incorporate scenes from popular movies and attract consumers with loyalty programs and social networking. Their goal is to crack the age-old problem of how to make movie games that aren’t boring.

Gamboler – Raising money is still pretty tough for game developers. Gamboler hopes to link budding indie game teams with crowd-sourced investment funds. It’s sort of like Kiva — which raises $25 micro-loans from consumers –- meets the Independent Games Festival, which features bright new game talent. Vetted developers pitch their ideas to the Gamboler community, which rates the risk factors for the teams and then opens up the chance for micro-investments in the companies. It is aimed at those with small teams working on iPhone, Flash or downloadable games.

RocketOn – This company is helping to pioneer parallel virtual worlds. It seems to add a parallel layer on top of ordinary web sites that allows users to “walk” across the sites with virtual characters, or avatars. You can use your avatar to explore the web and see things that others don’t. You can, for instance, chat with friends while visiting web sites, make new friends, and explore virtual places. The company is working with partners who are implementing the technology, which gives users a new web-browsing experience.

SnipClip – This German company lets consumers engage in a social game where they collect virtual items related to their favorite stars. They can trade and exchange these items with friends. SnipClip lets media brands, sports franchise, and bands form deeper relationships with their fans and sell them virtual goods. Among the things fans can collect and trade are short video snippets of their favorite stars.

SuperSecret – This San Francisco company is one of many making a virtual world for kids. But SuperSecret has a well-conceived “meta game” where kids get to learn what it’s like to grow up from age 10 to age 18. While it remains focused on safe and appropriate experiences, the game rewards kids in a unique way. They can play any of 35 already-popular casual mini games. That lets them earn points that allow their avatars to “age up,” which in turn lets kids unlock more privileges, like driving a car. The company has raised $10 million, launched its site in January and already has 150,000 users.

Switch Games – It’s a social marketplace for gamers where members can trade used video games for free. They can also buy and sell games, using the automated SwitchBot service that matches buyers and sellers. Sellers can get a better deal than they can by trading in their games at the store, while buyers can get access to a big library of games at low prices without the worry of being ripped off. It’s part eBay, part Facebook.

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