Akoha.com is shutting its doors on August 15.
Perhaps this means nothing to you. You’ve never heard of Akoha before, so the fact that it will close three years after opening isn’t on your radar.
But it should be.
“Akoha is built on the basic premise that special little moments make life more awesome,” its site reads. This is a social media company that encourages networking through acts of kindness, awesome, and fun. Players get missions — some posted online, others available through a pack of cards — that prompt people to go out and be nice to others. Once you complete a mission, you “play” it forward to that person, and then he or she will go out into the world with more kindness to share.
“Give someone flowers,” one of my cards reads.
“Invite someone for drinks.”
“Give someone a surprise gift.”
The Akoha website offers a regular feed of people updating their mission completions, displaying pictures, descriptions, and testimonies to happiness and the pursuit of awesome.
This company is closing its doors.
Why? Don’t we like being nice to others? Don’t we have fun finding the awesome in life’s special moments?
Or was this simply a problem of advertising? I suspect many of you are hearing of Akoha for the first time, though it’s been open for three years.
I will admit that, though I kept my cards displayed on my office desk and I have the iPhone app, I have only played a handful of missions. The concept intrigues me, but I never felt properly motivated. And, of course, there was the strange problem of how confused people seemed when I tried to explain Akoha to them, or how occasionally friends took offense at the suggestion I was only doing something nice to “win” a game.
Akoha isn’t the only group to seek gameification of improving the world. But is this vision an attainable one? With this sudden closing of Akoha on August 15, I wonder. What do you think?