As with many web innovations, Flickr, the site that became synonymous with online photo sharing, started out as one idea only to pivot to something completely different.
Ten years ago, newlyweds Caterina Fake and Stewart Butterfield were developing a massively multiplayer online game called Game Neverending. Both were early bloggers with a creative streak and a flair for literature, and were intrigued by the concept of a virtual world ruled by social interactions, a precursor to World of Warcraft and Second Life. The way Fake (her real name, which has caused countless hassles at airports) once described it to me, Game Neverending sounds pretty far out. Part whimsy (a player would find a wombat whistle, blow it and baby wombats would cuddle up against her) part meta-reality: Users could work alone or together to create a business or product, raise venture capital, hype it, and everyone would grow rich. Players could cheer up one another by sprinkling magic sparkle powder in a crowded room. You can see screencaps of the game prototype here.
Read more about how Flickr made it to the next level->
For what it’s worth, Game Neverending is now a separate, live game in public beta: Glitch, run by Stewart Butterfield. I like the game and community a lot and I’m no gamer.