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December 17th, 2012, 21:17
Boyfriend Maker

These days, metrics and experience design are paramount -- aren't they? Yet somehow 36You's tacky little iOS app Boyfriend Maker [see the Tumblr here] became the viral sensation to close the year. There are obvious reasons why it caught on: It stars a customizable, vacant-eyed Ken doll with a chat bot core that was prone to spewing unexpected responses and random obscenities. That every happy accident lent itself so readily to Facebook sharing meant Boyfriend Maker spread like wildfire, with the amused and the curious of all genders and predilections signing on to see what their placid, vulgar virtual man would say and do.

More interesting is that Boyfriend Maker relies on a chat bot tailored by internet users, applied in a post-release update so that this unpredictable element somehow sneaked by Apple's walled garden. Boyfriend Maker got pulled after it was revealed users could basically get their virtual boyfriend to offend egregiously, even to condone pedophilia. Yet amid this bizarre accident is an interesting kernel: Let users own randomness, feel creative and share offbeat creations, and even established best practices of viral sharing and in-app purchases seem to turn on their heads.

It does sound amusing.
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