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As 18-year-old Russian wunderkind Andrey Ternovskiy wrestles with making his random video chat service ChatRoulette more tasteful, several competitors have barged in within the last two months.
Today, the developers behind instant messaging client Digsby unveiled their own addition to the field called ChatVille. It’s a Facebook app that randomly pairs you with strangers for a video chat and brings in viral mechanics common to social games like those made by Zynga and Playdom. You can compliment your chat partners or award them badges for being a “Sweetie” or just being friendly, collecting points along the way. You can take snapshots or record small snippets of video to post them to your Facebook profile too.
The benefit of being embedded within Facebook is that there’s a lower chance you’ll run into explicit content. Indeed, while I was using the service this morning, I didn’t run into any nudity. That’s a big difference from ChatRoulette, which is on an external website and doesn’t require any registration. Anecdotally, I’ve run into adult content with roughly one out of every six to eight strangers there.
Like its counterparts in conventional social gaming, ChatVille is pretty aggressive with getting you to level up and share your achievements with friends by posting to your wall.
Of course, a little bit of the novelty of the experience has worn off since ChatRoulette exploded onto the scene at the beginning of this year. After Ternovskiy launched the site last fall, it quickly spread to the point where it was handling roughly 1 million users each day. Ternovskiy is at work cleaning up the service too. He’s since relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area and has a team of developers working on weeding out inappropriate or sexual use of the site.
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