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New startup Playkast, which debuts today, aims to add a new level of engagement to the typically passive experience of watching a video.

Playkast essentially adds a gaming layer to video content. Users who play games on these videos have a chance to earn points and win rewards.

“Playkast derived from discussions with online video creators who expressed frustration that there was no way to drive viewers to participate directly and share with their friends,” said Playkast founder and chief executive Larry Braitman. “So we created Playkast to transform online video from a static, one-way experience, into an engaging, social experience.”

For example, while watching a video, Playkast can put a blue “respond” button above the video. Click it, and you’ll have a chance to give points to videos you like, vote on polls, and the like.

Braitman said that Playkast can help select brands, celebrities and online communities foster a more direct and emotional connection with their audience.

“This is significant because online video is a ‘lean forward’ medium. The more the audience participates, the stronger the connection,” Braitman said.

People who create Playkast videos can then embed them into websites, social networks (like Facebook) and encourage others to share them.

PlaykastDepending on how it’s used, taking advantage of mini game mechanics to enhance the effectiveness of advertisement could either prove to be a mighty weapon for advertisers or a major annoyance for users. However, I do believe adding gaming elements to a close-knit communities of a brand/celebrity/etc. certainly has potential.

Founded in 2011, the seven-person San Francisco-based company has a total $1 million in angel investment. The company faces competition from Sharethrough, Jun Group and Lean-in.

Photo and screenshot of Playkast via Larry Braitman.

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