Facebook “Likes,” comment board trolls, and celeb watchers’ apoplectic reactions to things such as JLawr’s chopped locks confirm that, online, people love to judge, and share their point of view. No topic is too small, no opinion too extreme. Yet so much of this waging of personal preferences is so binary (like/dislike, up-vote/down-vote, hot/not), leaving little room for more complex opinions.
Desktop critics don’t despair! Proust, a new game app from New York agency Mother and Heavy.com founder David Carson, adds all sorts of nuance and nuttery to the practice of passing judgment. Equal parts Proust Questionnaire, Newlywed Game and FMK, this game allows you to rank a group of items, people or ideas along with friends.
Choosing what you like best out of two options (for example, kittens or puppies) is simple. But the game explores what happens when you add a third option (bacon) or a fourth (grandma’s cooking) or even a fifth (sex). The game requires you to rank your preferences and then share with friends. Ask people to rank grandma’s cooking next to sex and bacon is sure to elicit some interesting insights about your fellow players. Find out, based on your answers, if you’re twinsies or total opposites.
Carson says the idea came from a desire to update the famous Proust Questionnaire, conceived in the late 1800s by French writer Marcel Proust and used regularly by Vanity Fair and by interviewer James Lipton on In the Actor’s Studio.
“We’re fans of the original Proust Questionnaire, the one Marcel Proust played as a teenager,” says Carson. “It was a fun parlor game for him and his friends. So, we asked ourselves, how would Proust play the parlor game today? We iterated a lot of ideas and then we stumbled onto this notion of sorting and ranking. People love communicating through lists. Everybody has a top 5 of something–movies, music, food–and when you compare your top 5 to someone else’s, especially someone you think you know well, you’re always surprised by how different they actually see the world. And that’s the starting point of a fun conversation. How could you possibly put New Order over Joy Division? Or Shake Shack burgers over those at In & Out–and what about the sliders at White Castle? The conversations around that kind of activity felt inherently game-like, so we added mechanisms to compare and contrast how you ranked certain lists. Sometimes you’re a complete match, and other times you’re complete opposites. It was a quick way to find out what you’re friends really think.”
Partnering with Mother, known for its offbeat and often Technicolor creative lens, the game is dubbed the world’s first “fancy, social, rainbow-based ranking game” and looks every bit like that descriptor would suggest. Says Mother’s Andrew Deitchman, “There seemed like a space between social sharing and games that hadn’t been filled. Proust fills that void with lots of fun and rainbow colors.”
And with that, be off! It’s time to lose yourself in this Friday-afternoon-ready digital distraction (even though it’s Monday).