It’s more common than ever to find a companion online. But a new free, Texas-based dating app hopes to make the process even more personal for by turning the flirting process into a mobile charades game.
Charade Date by DNA Mobile launched on iOS in late September as the brainchild of founder Richard Burghardt. Users are shown matches based on age, proximity and sexual orientation and then given the option of requesting a game.
If the other person accepts, the two users enter into a match. They take turns creating eight-second videos with their front-facing camera, in which they act out a charade. The other person guesses, and from there it’s church bells and babies.
“You can’t hide in video interaction,” founder Richard Burghardt says. “You can’t show a picture of yourself from 10 years ago when you were 50 pounds lighter.”
There are no scores to be tallied or games to be won. Rather, it’s about getting to know someone — you can message the other player during the game — through something less stilted than an online profile.
“It’s my opinion that the online dating world and the form of interactions are really unnatural for a lot of people and awkward for some,” Burghardt says.
“People typically get to know someone in some other context than dating. They’re a friend of a friend, and then they turn that into dating, or they work together and then they start dating. Online dating can be like walking up to someone at a bar; it’s difficult and intimidating.”
Burghardt says Charade Date grew from his interest in apps like Words With Friends and Draw Something, which offer friendly competition without making it about winning.
“I always wanted to know the person on the other end,” he says. “It wasn’t about winning the game; it was about how funny these pictures are. The interaction was where the entertainment was.
“The idea of putting people together on video in the form of a game answers all the questions you might need to get to know somebody.”
Considering there is a meme called “Rule 34” that states, “If it exists, there is porn of it. No exceptions,” it would make sense that a video-based dating app could result in some less-than-wholesome videos being sent to unwanted eyes. DNA Mobile weighed the two options — heavy policing of videos or a more hands-off approach.
“We call that the ‘Chatroulette Effect,’ where you’d see something interesting or funny and then the next video is of someone naked,” Burghardt says. “The heavy policing model had a lot of issues from our end — how do you know what’s inappropriate, the time commitment to monitoring videos, the legal aspect.
“We’ve made it so that you can refuse games and also block people from being able to find you. You hit a button, confirm it and they’re gone for good. It’s the most elegant solution without being a police force.”
But Burghardt says that the video aspect provides security against liars that other dating apps and sites can’t.
“You can’t hide in video interaction,” he says. “You can’t show a picture of yourself from 10 years ago when you were 50 pounds lighter, and you can’t pretend to be a 20-year-old girl when you’re a 40-year-old guy.
“The most important thing is that you’re playing a game, and you have something to talk about. You’re not trying to force a conversation based off a profile.”