Playing Games on Twitter

Internet, Video Games

Twitter Bot Quilt

I was recently interviewed by Jason Johnson at Kill Screen about the intersection of two of my favourite topics: video games and Twitter bots. Specifically, he wanted to explore the possibilities of using Twitter as a platform for games, and I was happy to oblige! You can read the interview over on their site:

Kill Screen – Is Twitter the Next Playground for Gamers?

In preparation for our discussion, I took some time to catalogue all the game & game-like bots I could find. For instance, image bots (such as Lowpolybot, a_quilt_bot & pixelsorter) are interactive, but are they games? Others explore content from games (MinecraftSigns, Book of the Dead) without being games per se.

Some bots (AnagramBot, ThesaurusGame, and my own TinyCrossword) function like public game shows; anyone on Twitter can reply but only the first correct answer will win. More egalitarian bots (wordassocbot, mazebotgame & fmkvote) let everyone play, and choose their inputs randomly or in aggregate1. There’s a category of bots that don’t take player input at all, but instead play games against themselves (ChessBotWhite & reverseocr). You could even interpret artassignbot as a game, if you approached its assignments sincerely!

Bots can also explore game-like procedural generation and world building. ARealRiver, tiny_star_field and dungeon_bot assemble unicode symbols into microcosms, cleverly working within the constraints of Twitter. Similarly, fantasy_florist and youarecarrying evoke imaginary worlds using only brief descriptions.

Ultimately, I believe we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to playing on Twitter and interacting with bots. There are many interesting creative opportunities in both, so I encourage my fellow bot enthusiasts to continue creating and experimenting!

1 The popular streaming bot Twitch Plays Pokémon uses a similar approach.

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