Friday, May 17, 2024

A screenshot from a smartphone shows the SCVNGR app, from a company based in East Cambridge, at work in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Ted Eytan)

Among the ideas for bringing life to Kendall Square is a game that would encourage people to enter businesses and organizations there — a variation on the check-ins that let people become “mayor” of places in the Foursquare mobile phone app. While Kendall Square is usually considered a leader in all things technological, though, city councillors are only now contemplating rolling it out in Kendall.

The game is already in place in East Cambridge.

That’s only natural: SCVNGR is an East Cambridge-based company, and it’s working with the East Cambridge Business Association.

Together the organizations have formed the “EC Trek,” or, for those not into the whole brevity thing, The Trek to Explore East Cambridge, in which participants with Android or iPhone smartphones must check in to nine locations in East Cambridge, four of which offer rewards for earning points. (The app is free.)

A challenge might be snapping a photo of the Atwood’s Tavern stage or identifying which former president visits the East Side Bar & Grill when in town. As challenges are completed, players earn points that can unlock real-world rewards such as a free dessert at Atwood’s or free nachos at Pug’s Bar & Grill, business association representative Carl Fantasia said in a press release.

“We’re excited to be a part of the ECBA’s Trek to explore East Cambridge,” said Patrick Magee, of Atwood’s Tavern. “Not only will we be able to attract people in the neighborhood to our business, we’ll also be able to provide our customers with a unique Atwood’s experience and reward them for their loyalty.”
While four spots in East Cambridge might not sound impressive, there are real-world rewards at more than 12,000 locations, said Justin Schaeffer, of SCVNGR. The company is funded by Google Ventures, Highland Capital Partners and Balderton Capital.

“Building on the SCVNGR gaming platform is easy for any business to do and enables them to create custom, scripted experiences for the community,” Schaeffer said. “The Trek to Explore East Cambridge is great because it engages the local community and highlights East Cambridge as a great place to shop and dine, while at the same time helping local businesses connect with each other and promote themselves through social media.”

For more on SCVNGR, click here. For more on the East Cambridge Business Association, click here.

This post was written from a press release.