Friday, March 29, 2013

Keepin' it Real

I have to admit, when the new company took over the running of Winster, there was a lot of skepticism about whether they would be able to pull off servicing such a different demographic than the hardcore gamers they were used to. We met in the big conference room to listen to everyone's two cents about how we needed to overhaul the site completely if we were going to get any traction.

In the end, we decided against it. We would relaunch as quickly as we could and then make changes as we went along. Knowing that our customers would quickly move on to the latest and greatest bells and whistles if we didn't do this asap. 

How wrong we were. Our customers – our friends, don't seem to care much abut the name or the color of the pages. They come to play and make friends. To take a break from the office or connect with old friends before going to bed.

My husband and I, both being in the "tech" industry, try to make sure we're aware of what the kids are doing just so we feel tuned in to popular culture. We Twitter and Google and Facebook and even once forced ourselves to listen to nothing but rap music for a month (more on that later). Young people are a good barometer, but sometimes the biggest eye openers are the shifts that take place among the older crowd. We use technology for sure, not as a replacement for real relationships, but as a way to make sure we don't forget birthdays and to say thank you and hello. And to meet a few friends on a Saturday night for a little Slot Social.

So on this Easter weekend (this is the part where I try to wrap up all my thoughts into a neat little timely bundle), when everything seems to be about newness and rebirth, I for one am celebrating the fact that some things DON"T change. And that's okay.

XO Happy Easter!

Monday, March 25, 2013

With the Mostest

Good Monday Winsters!
Last Spring I went to visit my niece and nephew at their elementary school. I thought I'd surprise them by bringing McDonalds to the cafeteria at lunch time when I got into town. My niece was super excited and introduced me to all her 4th grade girlfriends. My 6th grade nephew on the other hand was way too busy to have anything to do with me. He was the lunchroom monitor and took his job VERY seriously.

Geek you say? Outcast? Oh no. My nephew is actually one of the popular kids. And apparently, in this school, it only helps your popularity to don a safety vest and make sure other kids return their trays in an orderly fashion.

At Winster, we're on board with that. Our in-game lunchroom monitors, we call them "Hosts",  are carefully selected individuals who meet a specific criteria while showing a track record of participation and good sportsmanship.

Winster hosts do not wear orange safety vests but will display the letter "H" as a badge. You'll find them randomly placed in rooms, so ask them for help if you need it. And of course just say no if you don't.

If you'd like to become a host, see the requirements link from your "My Stuff" page. It's never too late to be one of the cool kids :)


Friday, March 15, 2013


Top O' The Mornin' to you Winsters!

Getting ready for another Saint Paddy's Day at our house. The day where I slow cook a corned beef until it becomes an unrecognizable gray color and then blandly boil up some tasteless, watery cabbage and soft potatoes to go with it. Yum!

It sounds awful, I know, and really it kind of is. If it weren't for the horseradish and sour cream that we slather on everything, it probably wouldn't be worth doing. But my mother forced it on me, and when I was a single gal in college I forced it on myself. And now that I have a family, the tradition must endure. 

That's the thing about traditions, they don't always have to be positive experiences. Sometimes you just have to mark a day in a way that makes you remember it. Or drink enough green beer to forget altogether :)

For those of you that won't be following in the tradition, we have a virtual plate of corned beef and cabbage to give as a gift to your friends. And it looks a heck of a lot better than my cooking!

Erin Go Bragh!
Winnie O'Winster

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Trading Post

This week at Winster we've been tackling the issue of trading pieces in our games. Since we pride ourselves on being a collaborative site where helping each other out is our differentiator, we never spent much time on this issue. We just assumed everyone liked to trade.

Our crack research tells us that trading falls into a few categories:
1. Player unselfishly gives up a piece they may need to someone else who needs it more.
2. Player makes an even trade and both players get what they want.
3. One player decides what another players hand will look like and forces them to take pieces.
3. Player harasses another player into trading for something they need.

Although most players fall into categories one and two, which is what we intended when making it collaborative, you'd be surprised at how many times I am traded random things.  I blindly accept, thinking someone sees a pattern in my hand before I do and then realize no, this player is trying to PLAY my hand or TAKE my pieces.

And then of course, there are the really bad apples. The wild card and Winnie thieves who complain when you don't willingly hand them a big win. And in some cases, they get nasty. We put them in the category of "well, it's the internet and there are a lot of crazies out there".

That said, I have been in rooms where someone will announce "Nancy hasn't had a jackpot yet, let's help her get one!" and then everyone gives her wild cards or Winnies until she wins. I like those people. A lot.

So the lesson in today's rambling is one your mother taught you many times, just say NO. If something seems suspicious, trading is an option but not a requirement. Like tipping or wearing shoes.

Have a great weekend Winsters!