launches Facebook social game

Online food destination site launched its first social game on Facebook August 4. The site, jointly operated by Hearst Magazines Digital Media and MSN, partnered with VoxPop, a social gaming firm, on the initiative. wanted to offer relevant and socially engaging content through the game, known as “The Delish Challenge,” said Elizabeth Shepard, executive director of

“We wanted to create something fun and informational about food,” she said, adding that will conduct contests with prize giveaways as part of the initiative.

The game includes 1,000 food-related questions and tests food lovers' knowledge as they climb their way up the restaurant ladder, from busser to executive chef. There are 23 levels players must beat to finish the game. Along the way, they can collect virtual food-related items, such as sushi knives, wine glasses and chilies, which can be traded with friends. Trivia topics include desserts, healthy cooking, comfort food and regional cuisines.

Shepard also said will measure how many consumers play the game, whether they like it, the frequency they use it, and whether it leads consumers back to

The companies may create additional social media extensions of the game, although none are planned at this time, Shepard added.

"This is one of the first games that contains relevant pop culture content married with gaming characteristics — such as the leveling-up aspect of it,” said Bill Armistead, cofounder of VoxPop.

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