Playing Snap, Snap, Go, a new iPhone-only app, is kind of like eating at a fast food restaurant. It's wonderful - at first. But the fun fades much too quickly. And then you're consumed with a sense of regret and shame because even though you just had sort of a pleasurable experience, you know it can't possibly be good for you.
If Snap, Snap, Go - which describes itself as "a picture game for awful people" - turns out to be as popular as fast food, it may mark the end of civilization's progress. Because that would mean smartphones - the most advanced personal computing and communications devices ever created - are really all about making us giggle. Which certainly isn't "awful," but still a vast comedown from the awesome, life-changing uses promised for our amazing mobile computers.
Tellingly, Snap, Snap, Go's positioning isn't quite right. It's really for "awful people," it's for the awful person in all of us.
Here's how it works: After downloading the app, you sign in using your Facebook account. For beginners, the game presents a series of meme-like questions, such as: "Eat Just One," and asks you to vote for which of the of two pictures it shows you best corresponds to the question. Your choices might be a bowl of jelly beans versus chili cheese fries, for example.
There are also plenty of "awful" battles. Such as: "I lie to get __," "Donald Trump could wear it as a toupee," or "Ron Jeremy owns 10 of these." These are distressingly hard to resist.
The real "fun" begins when you challenge your Facebook friends - or random opponents. (None of my friends use the app, which I'm sure means something, so I challenged random people.) Again, the app presents you with a series of meme-like questions. For example, "Why is my phone sticky?" (Yes, I know.) You then snap and post a picture that you think best answers the question - as do your opponents. If you don't have an, er, provocative picture of your own, the game lets you cheat and grab a photo from Flickr. Then others get to vote on whose photo they like best. (That's where the pictures come from in the beginner's example above.)
If your opponents don't respond quickly, the game lets you "nudge" them. Beyond that, there's not much else you can do. Another problem is that the game doesn't immediately provide you with results - who won, who lost, how many people voted for one picture over another. I often got bored waiting and moved on to a new snap battle. The game does make it easy, however, to encourage your friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter to join in on the action.
Like fatty, salty, fast food or that silly new pop song you can't stop listening to, the app does its best to keep you hooked. Who could resist responding when asked to come up with a picture for what "always gets you laid?"
The free app is rated 12+, despite "mild mature" themes. The app does make it easy to report inappropriate pictures, which is a good thing. While playing for less than a day, I encountered one picture that I thought was borderline inappropriate.
"Wisdom" Of The Crowd?
The game's developer states that "witty or funny responses often win, the more awful, the better you do, but it all depends on the wisdom of the crowd."
Wisdom of the crowd is a bit of a stretch. This game is about stealing a few moments of amusement - the app equivalent of Lolcats.
Somewhere on the Internet sits a very well-constructed research paper discussing the psycho-social reasons why we humans love silly pictures and random, mindless contests with strangers, and further outlines the implications of such behavior. That's great, and a huge validation of the enduring value of the Interent. On the other hand, I have already spent far more time playing Snap, Snap, Go than I ever will reading that paper.