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Hooking Up Happier: Game Design Insight For Grindr

Grindr, the popular location-based app for gay and bisexual men, started three years ago and now has a user base of over four million. The service continues to grow at a rapid pace—in spite of new direct competitors like Scruff and Jack'd cropping up, and existing sites like OKCupid adding geo-location.

While Grindr is less known than something like Foursquare, it is often recognized as one of the best services for socially connecting its users. At the same time, services like Grindr aren't without discontent. Many users are discouraged by their interactions, at turns coarse, unsatisfying, or — worse — absent.

This talk provides context for Grindr's success and presents the service through the lens of a game designer (after all, many people consider meeting up with people a game anyhow) drawing from research to suggest the current rules of the game, what the best strategies are for Grindr (and other services), and how a few simple changes could fit the needs of more players.


  1. What makes Grindr excel as a geo-location app, where others have stalled or diminished in popularity?
  2. Why is Grindr an important app that demonstrates the power of technology to shepherd social progress?
  3. How does the specific niche of a queer male audience affect both the usage and the success of Grindr?
  4. What lessons can be drawn from the principles of game design when applied to Grindr?
  5. How has the design of Grindr shifted behaviours in users and what is the future of geo-location apps such as Grindr to become more useful to users?



Jaime Woo, Writer/Festival Organizer, Gamercamp

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