Hi5 beats Facebook in real-world sumo-wrestling showdown


Each year, the casual game industry gathers in Seattle for Casual Connect. Three days of conference sessions, business meetings, and evening networking lead to a close-knit industry that seems to thrive and thrive no matter what the economy seems to do.

On the opening night, social network Hi5 hosted an event to celebrate their new game developer portal. Not only was it one of the most talked about events of the evening, the party had a trailer.

Recently the network hired a storied and colorful executive named Alex St. John to turn the company towards social games, and since then St. John has engaged in a war of words against Facebook.

And in Seattle on Tuesday night, St. John turned a verbal smackdown into a physical one. In a bar filled with the executives, decision-makers, and power players of the casual game industry, he strode to a sumo-wrestling mat, took the microphone to crow a couple business buzzwords, mugged for the crowd, removed his silk kimono, and faced one of the world's champion sumo wrestlers - serving as a proxy for Facebook in the duel - all to the cheers of a raucous audience.

(Photo by Paul Philleo)

St. John grappled, and took a tumble or two, but in the end he emerged victorious over his sumo Facebook stand-in. Whether this is a predictor of developers and players migrating away from the world's leading social game platform is something that remains to be sene. But at Casual Connect, the business maneuvers are never dull.