In order to understand the mechanics of Twitter Social Games, one has to play them. So, I spent some time trying playing some of these games. I’m quite underwhelmed. There seem to be two distinct types of games that are most popular:
The first is purely twitter-based like trivia, word (hangman, scramble), or math games in which questions or puzzles are published as tweets and users reply with the answers. I personally haven’t seen a trivia tweet yet – or maybe I’m just not fast enough! The math game seemed to be dominated by two people with easy access to calculators – by the time I read the math problem, it was solved. The hangman game seemed interesting at first – they would post the clue and the number of letters, then the community would @reply a letter, and I think based on the highest vote for a letter within a time frame, they chose the letter. But I invariable seemed to miss it and when I next checked, the next puzzle was posted. The scramble game seemed to have the same effect as the math game. Either I am not fast enough, or I’m not as addicted to Twitter as I thought I was! I am giving these games another few days and then looking for new ones.
The second type (and for me the more annoying type) is the Role Playing Games (RPG). I played Spymaster for a while but had to be on the Spymaster site to get any points (money, tools, kills). I seemed to be spending more time on their site than on Twitter! Being a spy game (I joined the MI6), I assumed that I would at least get secret messages from the Directorate and such through twitter, but nothing so far. I repeated some tasks to move up the levels and ran out of points. At which point I was presented with the option to ‘get more’. Clicking on that took me to a list of advertisements I needed to view in order to get more points!! *grumble* And then I had strange people suddenly following me and I followed some of them back and started getting Direct Messages (DMs) from them asking me to ‘join their cells’ etc. These seemed to be people who set up specific Twitter aliases in order to play Spymaster because their twitter stream was only about the game! So far, I’m having NO fun at all! I found this article in Mashable that gives you a great description and guide for Spymaster – how to play it, how to succeed, etc.
Another RPG is 140blood. I am still figuring this one out, but it seems to run along the lines of Spymaster. You choose if you want to be bloody elves, bloody vampires, bloody post-apocalyptic people, or bloody action heros. Without knowing it, I’ve been attacked and defeated, I’ve recruited someone, and my twitter friends get periodic updates that I’m playing the game, even though I’m not actively doing so. Performing a quest (Explore the Frozen Tundra, Hunt Weredogs, Exterminate Mutant Camp) seem fascinating, but alas, doing the quest essentially means clicking a button and reading that I attacked the dogs, was counter-attacked, attacked again, and I won! *anticlimax*
A third kind – and I don’t know if there are more like this to make a category or not – is an interesting game called BackChatter that I played at a conference earlier this year. It was started by Mike Edwards, Colleen Macklin, John Sharp, and Eric Zimmerman. As they describe it on the site, “BackChatter is a game about Twitter trendspotting. You pick words that you think people will tweet about, and then you get points when those words are used in tweets about the conference.” This is a game that will only work at tech conferences which has attendees that are heavy twitter users. But it works well. At the Games4Change conference, there were many twitter users and the game was quite successful and fun to play. What you earned was bragging rights from your peers at the conference and the investment was pretty low. I made it to the leaderboard but never won, but I was still engaged and interested. Even though I’m a little disappointed, I am staying with it. There seem to be a LOT of people playing these games, and I still want to know why and what they get out of it.
- Find these people who play these games and talk to them, hopefully they’ll answer a questionnaire or something if I agree to join their coven or whatever.
- Look for other innovative games like BackChatter.
- Create some sort of matrix for defining these games – high investment, low investment, within twitter, outside twitter – and how games and players fall along these categories.
- Do people who play one kind play the other kinds? Why?
For those of you following me on Twitter, I apologize for the random tweets that these games may send out. I also apologize if someone is trying to recruit you – it’s not me, really. And if I get sucked in, and the only way for my to succeed is to beg you to join my cell, then I hope you will!