Review: Nomino, the Social Game to Challenge Your Friends

Remember how fun game nights are? You and a few friends get together to play cards or a board game or some other group game (Taboo has always been a favorite of mine.) Nomino is a new social game that leverages your social network and the ubiquitous practice of posting photos online to recreate that “party game” feeling in an easy and fun way.

Nomino is a simple question-and-answer game, where a captioned image is your single clue to the answer. Players get to add their own Nominos to the database too in an effort to challenge (and possibly stump!) their friends and other players. That’s where the party game comes in: who doesn’t like to challenge their friends with trivia? You post a Nomino, share it on Facebook/Twitter/other social media, and your friends from everywhere and anywhere try to rise to the challenge. This is the first game I’ve played in recent memory that positively leverages social sharing as part of the experience (in contrast, too many games on iOS and Android require obtrusive, bothersome sharing in order to earn currency or something – whereas the point of Nomino is to share the challenge.)

Players earn coins for answering and creating Nominos. Those coins can be redeemed for free stuff from corporate partners, adding further value to play. As of this writing, there’s only one prize (a $10 Starbucks gift card), but I’m told that they’re working on other partnerships for more prizes. Currently, the coin redemption rate is pretty damn inflated (that $10 gift card is a whopping 240,000 points), so I’m almost worried at seeing the exchange rates for gear and prizes that are more than $10 in value. Regardless, these are prizes that can be earned simply by playing a free game – even if it’ll take quite a while to earn something really good, you can’t argue with free.

The aesthetic design of the app itself is solid and attractive, but I can’t help but be frustrated with the layout. When you open the app, the first thing you see is your feed filled with featured Nominos and additions from people you follow. Sure, that makes sense – but what if you’ve just started? You only see the entries from the Nomino developers, and there isn’t a good way to find people who post Nominos that you want to answer. There is an “Explore” tab, but my anecdotal experience seems to indicate that it always shows the same ones over and over again. (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the Floyd Mayweather one.) When you answer a Nomino, more Nominos pop up for you to answer, but these seem to always pull from that same list, too.

You can search certain terms to find Nominos, but there are synonyms for everything that wouldn’t be pulled up with a literal search that this app seems to employ. I tried searching for “comics” to maybe find a comic book-related Nomino, which pulled up two results. I deleted the “s” and a bunch more came up. The difference between the two is logical, but not exactly friendly. If this app simply incorporated nested categories, it would be much better from a UX standpoint. Wouldn’t you rather do just a few taps to find Sports > Baseball to see all the baseball related Nominos, rather than typing “baseball” or “curveball” or “pitcher” or “outfield”…?

I’ve been sitting on this review for a while (apologies to those who were waiting on this), but to be honest – I was somewhat hoping it would get better in the mean time. I want to give it our “Highly Recommended” rating, but as it currently stands I just can’t. Truthfully, the game is quite fun: challenging friends and answering trivia is always a good time, especially when you’re geographically separated from most of your friends, like I am these days. But when I can’t find questions that I can or want to answer, I’ll get bored with the game. I know that the good people behind the app are constantly working to make the app better (I’m told that geotagged Nominos are on the way so that a question will pop up when you’re at vacationing a certain place, which is awesome), but these additions aren’t there yet. When significant changes are made, I’ll revisit the review, but until then…

FINAL VERDICT: Partial Recommendation. The game itself is a good start, but the app needs improvement. If you’re planning on using Nomino as a platform to pass challenges back and forth between you and your friends, it’s for you. But if you’re looking for a more – let’s call it – “single player experience,” Nomino needs a better way to sift through all of the submissions to find questions that are in one’s trivia wheelhouse, and the app could use more prizes to entice playing.

Nomino is available now on iOS, with Android and Windows Phone versions coming soon.

Written by: Dwight Tejano

Dwight is the founder of Open the Fridge, which he started in 2008 and rebooted in 2010. Due to the nature of early adopting, his bank account is normally empty. He likes to sing in world-renown choruses to forget such things.

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