At the beginning of the year I jumped on to these 2 location based games/social networks. The basic concept is that when you go somewhere you "check in" there. Opening the app it will show you the closest places to you and you check in. Anyone who is a friend will then know where you are. It is an interesting thing to me. Out of all the social networking things I am involved with it is the thing I have the least "friends" on. I don't really want all the world to know where I am at all times.
With each one you get different things when you check in. On Gowalla you get points and there is a leaderboard that shows you who has the most check ins at a certain place. You can also add pictures to places you check in at that anyone can see. Occasionally you find virtual items at places. You can use those items to drop or swap at establishments to become the founder of that place. You also receive stamps for certain things, like I have a stamp for creating 50 places. Basically because I have been in on it early there were stores that were not on there and I added them.
Foursquare is the one that currently has most prominence because it is working with so many companies. When you are the person who has checked in the most at one place you become the mayor of that establishment. There are some places that are working with Foursquare that give out incentives to visiting them the most. Starbucks was giving $1 off cold frappuccinos for a couple of months to the mayor. I am the mayor of 2 Starbucks (even with Scott trying to dethrone me at one of them). My favorite has been Mio Gelatos. The mayor there (me) gets a free gelato and cup of coffee any time they want. I have cashed in on this several times!
I had been thinking I was going to give up Gowalla when I checked in to the Apple store last month. As I checked in a screen popped up that said, "Click here to see if you won an eye-fi card." I clicked and I won! It's a 4GB SD card that goes into my digital camera and it automatically uploads my pics to my pic site of choice when I get on wifi. No need to put it into a card reader or anything! It arrived last week and it's awesome!