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Twitter: The Biggest Role Playing Game Ever Made

I was listening to an interview with the creators of Black Mirror on Note to Self, and Charlie Brooker said something (around minute 19:45 if you want to click over and listen for about two minutes) that I’ve been turning around in my head for days.

He created a documentary about video games, and he was counting down the most influential video games.

We put Twitter at number one, and people got really annoyed.  Twitter isn’t a game!  Don’t be an idiot!  Well, it is, actually.  It’s a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, in which you play a character based on yourself, but who isn’t yourself, in order to gather followers and points effectively and influence.  That’s what it is.  We’re all playing a role-playing game.  That’s what social media is.

He points out that it’s also a communication tool, but putting these addictive little goals like retweets into the mix or showing your follower count also makes it a game.  Communication tools usually aren’t something you can “win” or “lose.”  But, clearly, some people are “winning” at Twitter, at least as counted by the mainstream.

I am myself on Twitter, but only part of myself.  I don’t say everything on Twitter, only things I think are worth putting up on Twitter.  Which means that — by default — you’re getting a curated version of myself.  You can certainly use Twitter without writing anything on the site or having anyone follow you, but the mainstream use of Twitter does have more in common with role-playing games than a communication tool like a pamphlet.

How many pamphlets come with a number floating over it telling you how many people have picked it up?  You can’t count how many times people have passed along a pamphlet, and you’re not influenced to take one due to seeing that number.  It is strictly a communication tool, and either you want the information or you don’t.

Twitter, on the other hand, has a lot of numbers floating around that guide your hand to click follow, too.

What do you think?  Is Twitter a game?


1 a { 07.09.17 at 8:21 am }

That’s funny – and an interesting way to think of it. For me, it’s more like a giant party going on non-stop. As with any social gathering, there is a popularity contest going on, as well as smaller gatherings where cliques discuss the latest gossip. That’s why I don’t bother – I’m not a fan of huge parties.

2 TasIVFer { 07.09.17 at 8:33 am }

If you’re someone guided by those numbers. Every time you open your mouth you’re deciding what you do or do not share about yourself. Why do people think this is unique to social media? People who want to look at life lile a game play life like a game.

3 Lori Lavender Luz { 07.09.17 at 10:57 am }

I hadn’t thought of it that way, but it sure fits.

Blogging would fit with this, too, in that some see it as a numbers game in which some win and some don’t.

Once I see it this way, I can decide how/if I want to play.

4 Jodi { 07.09.17 at 11:19 am }

Isn’t this true of all social media?

5 Mali { 07.09.17 at 10:18 pm }

It’s all about attitude. If you’re sucked into the game, or pressured by your peers to care about the numbers. then maybe you see it more as a game. If you’re using it for branding, then the game becomes a game and a business. But although I’m not on Twitter, I think it applies to Fb too, and I don’t consider I’m winning or losing at Fb. I just see it as a way to keep in touch with people I love.

6 loribeth { 07.12.17 at 9:21 pm }

I’ve never paid too much attention to my stats, whether blogging views & comments, “likes” on Facebook, etc., although some people certainly do. I do see the point about roleplaying and influencing (to some extent), because I don’t think most of us reveal our entire true selves on social media — and some of us (Kim Kardashian, cough cough…) are very conscious and deliberate in what we post in order to cultivate a very specific image.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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