If you’re a fan of simulation games and social networks, Empire Avenue may be the perfect mashup to keep you entertained for hours. The game turns your social network activity into the basis for a virtual economy in which you are the commodity and the investor at the same time.

Having come out of private beta, and after a short introduction to Empire Avenue, the game is continuing to grow in popularity.

Getting started

When signing up up for a free account you have to select a username or ticker symbol. Many users opt for their own initials, but if they’re already taken, you can get as creative as you want. You will also select your index, in other words, your field.

signup A Beginners Guide to Empire Avenue

The first thing to do after signing up is to connect your social networks. Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube are amongst the services currently available. If you run your own blog, you can also add the RSS feed to your profile.

Link A Beginners Guide to Empire Avenue

User profiles

User profiles are divided into five tabs, where all the information you’ll need to know about other users when deciding to invest in them can be found.

Main Tab

The Main tab lists your bio, your most recent activities on Empire Avenue, as well as shout outs, or in other words, comments left on your profile by other users, whether on your Empire Avenue profile itself, or on one of your social networking sites.

maintab A Beginners Guide to Empire Avenue

You can also view your latest achievements or badges, and any luxury items you’ve purchased. Luxury items are purchased with your virtual currency, and they can actually contribute to the increasing your personal net wealth over time.

achievements A Beginners Guide to Empire Avenue

When viewing another user’s profile, you can add them to your watch list from the main tab as well as recommend them, which helps increase their value, and add them to a private list. You can also send private messages and block users.

Portfolio & Lists Tab

The Portfolio & Lists Tab is where you can get the skinny on any given user. You’ll find the portfolio value, the number of shareholders who have invested in them, as well as how many times they have been recommended and listed. From here you can also see the latest movements on that account, giving you an idea of how fast its gaining value.

portf A Beginners Guide to Empire Avenue

Stats Tab

Next is the Stats tab, where you get detailed statistics about shares, dividends and portfolio value. The statistics are viewable by the current day, the past 7 days, the past month, or even the overall value. If you’re viewing someone else’s Stats tab who you’ve invested in, it will display the number of shares you have purchased.

stats A Beginners Guide to Empire Avenue

Connections Tab

The Connections tab displays links to your social network profiles to other users, communities you’ve joined, and your blog or RSS feed. In order for your blog to be displayed on your profile, 5 other users have to endorse it.

connections A Beginners Guide to Empire Avenue

About Tab

The final profile tab, About, lists your interests, biography, blogs and once again communities.

Start investing

Now that you know how user profiles are set up, the next step is to start investing. To get you started, you’re given some eaves, the virtual currency used in Empire Avenue, which you can use to invest in other users and purchase items from the online shop. If you find yourself running out of eaves, and are truly committed to the game, you can always purchase more, with the minimum 6,000 eaves setting you back $5. There are other ways to earn eaves, including inviting your friends to join the game. If you’re playing the game really well, you’ll find that you won’t have to put up any really cash, because you’re getting a decent return on your investments.

Your own worth in this virtual economy will be heavily influenced by your own activity – the more active and influential you are on your social networks, updating your status, uploading photos, writing blog posts, and so on, the more your value will increase.

Investing in other active users is another easy way to make sure that your ticker’s value continues to rise. A good way to decide who to invest in is to take a look at the tab labeled ‘Leaders.’ Here you will find the leaderboard from within your Empire Avenue category and from your own social networks.

TopFriends A Beginners Guide to Empire Avenue

When investing in a user, or buying shares, Empire Avenue makes it easy for you, letting you know how much a certain amount of shares will set you back, and how much money you currently have.

buyshares A Beginners Guide to Empire Avenue

Earn achievements

As you add services, and move further along in the game, you will unlock achievements and badges, a mile a minute. You can then flaunt them on your social networks, which might encourage your friends and followers to get sucked into the addictive game.

badges1 A Beginners Guide to Empire Avenue

Profiles display all the necessary information to decide whether or not you want to make an investment in someone, including their net wealth and their dividends, or in other words, how much you’ll earn from them for every share you buy.

TNW A Beginners Guide to Empire Avenue

The overall aim of the game is to climb the ranks of your index, with the ultimate achievement of making it to the coveted position of CEO, CFO or President.

leaderboard A Beginners Guide to Empire Avenue

What’s the point?

So why would you play a game like Empire Avenue? If you’re new to the world of social networking, it’s a fun way to learn the ropes and encourage you to participate in each of your social networks to the max. Empire Avenue can also be seen to have educational value, giving its users a deeper insight into the world of business, investments, and much more. Each feature is accompanied with helpful explanations, and it might also be worth it to take a look at the FAQs as you  learn how to play the game.

Empire Avenue is definitely a game that will appeal more to a business oriented user, but that’s not to say that those of us who don’t know much about stock markets and shares won’t have a good time trying to navigate the endless simulation game. The game will also be sure to bring out the narcissist in you as it’s all about self-promotion, and who doesn’t like an occasional plug every now and then.

If there is one criticism to be made of Empire Avenue, it is the fact that it is incredibly complex. It’s complexity can also be seen as a double edged sword, as once you’ve got a handle for the game, you’re not likely to get bored too easily.

So if you want to get a taste of the thrill that stock market investors enjoy on a daily basis, give Empire Avenue a try for a harmless, fun way to risk it all for the possibility of becoming a virtual business tycoon or social network master.