Shaker: Will anyone really use a virtual bar?

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It may look a lot like Habbo Hotel or Second Life or countless other avatar-based games, but this is Shaker, a new site that’s launching over in the US today, and we’re really not sure what to make of it….

Today Fast Company reported that the site (or app) isn’t just an ill conceived idea built in someone’s bedroom, it’s got backing from a number of top VCs in both the US and Israel who are convinced that it’ll prove to be a big success.

Shaker aims to create physical spaces online, but obviously they’re not physical, they just look like actual places and encourage us all to interact like we would at a bar or a cafe.

So just like in the screenshot above, you can have an avatar, meet people and “socialise” with others you already know. We know what you’re thinking, it all sounds kind of sad and lonely and hugely lacking in alcohol to say we’re all meant to be hanging out in a bar together.

The idea is to create a place where people can “bump into” one another, instead of connecting with people we already know or meeting people awkwardly without it feeling natural.

Shervin Pishevar, a Menlo Ventures partner who invested in Shaker, explained the concept nicely to Fast Company”

“There hasn’t been a lot of innovation in terms of connecting people randomly who would not [otherwise] be connected.

“I believe deeply in this vision of building serendipity to connect people.”

There are a few interesting things about Shaker that sets it apart from similar sites out there. Firstly, you can talk to all kinds of people, as those you know and your Facebook friends are outlined in blue and strangers are yellow. This means you can just talk to people you you’re friends with if you prefer (assuming they sign up too) and it also means your Facebook info is displayed next to your avatar, which means less crazies trying to talk about sex than in a regular chat room scenario. Well at least that’s what we hope.

Interestingly you can’t walk around as a xenomorph or buy big boobs to push into people’s faces, men get the male avatar and women get the female one, which may seem a little bland but does strip the app down and becomes all about communication and less about agonising over your fake avatar’s hair colour.

However, Shaker isn’t just about creating a lovely little space for people to chat, there’s potential for brands, businesses and celebrities here too. Shaker has launched in the US today with just the one venue called Club 53, but eventually a lot of different venues and spaces will be opening. Fast Company details some of the possibilities for venues like this, so a sports team could meet fans in a venue, or we could watch Gaga perform an intimate performance at a little bar. It seems some top names are already interested in some of these possibilites, as Lady Gaga’s manager Troy Carter has already invested in Shaker.

We can’t help but think that being in front of someone, reading their body language, hearing their voice and watching their expressions is a big part of the “serendipity” Pishevar believes Shaker has been created to bring about, but we’re still interested to see what happens with an app that has so far garnered a huge amount of interest and a fair few pennies from some top names.

[Via Shiny Shiny Via Fast Company]
Becca Caddy
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