thesixtyone, which calls itself “a music adventure”, is an online community where artists upload their music and listeners decide which songs are the best. As The Drop puts it, the site is an “almost game like format [that] consistently keeps you interested” with its “influence points” system. Points measure your influence as a listener or your popularity as an artist.
- As a listener you spend points to vote for or “bump” a song. When others like the songs you bump, or when you spend more time on the site, you gain points and reach higher levels, which unlock special abilities like multiple bumps.
- As an artist you level up to unlock special abilities like uploading additional songs.
It seems to be a trend for websites to liken themselves to RPGs with jargon like leveling up and unlocking abilities even if reward systems have been around for much longer than games. But I’m more interested in how well they used AJAX.
Unobtrusive AJAXy goodness
You can listen to a songs without any interruptions as you continue to browse the site. I think this is a great feature, but it is very rare on music sites.
Helpful reminders and tips pop up also unobtrusively. Not only do they show you how to use the website, but share interesting tidbits about the current song playing. For example, “Rat Is Dead (Rage)” by CSS starts playing and this pops up: “This sounds like a translucent wrapper for Lovefoxxx’s libido.” Upon googling I found it from Stereogum’s review of the song.
But the best part—for me, as a web designer—is that every link you click is not just a hash symbol (#), but a permalink, whether it’s an About page or an Artist page. This is the clearest sign of unobtrusive AJAX.
I want more features
The down side of AJAX is that it’s hard to tell what the you want as a user, since you’re moving all over the place. There are so many things you can do asynchronously, but developers can’t produce them all.
I wish I could queue songs as I browse the site and find new tracks. I wish there was a floating dock that displays the stream of songs that will be played one after the other, and the songs I want to queue could be inserted in between any of them. I don’t really need to save a playlist if the time I spend on the site is one big, dynamic playlist in itself. Now that would truly feel like I’m in one endless RPG.
I feel the music discovery experience is not yet fully realized here, but maybe I’m asking for too much. Or maybe thesixtyone is not the right place for it, though I was hoping it would be.
Still, I’m curious what the actual games will be.