PSFK spoke about the Future Of Gaming with the founders of Tweetland, a game that uses experiences reported on Twitter to create in-game content.
Please provide a brief introduction about yourself and your company.
TweetLand was born as a joint venture between WHY Ideas and Tree Interactive, two companies dedicated to product development and vanguard concepts with a business orientation.
Tree Interactive –created by the triplets Felipe, Alberto and Andrés Cartín–is a software company specialized in design and development of interactive applications. Before starting the company, all three members had distinguished themselves by their software projects, making a couple of games and a lot of interactive, user friendly applications. They were on the core team of design and development for platform games such as Wackylands Green and Boss, amongst others, during their work at Fair Play Labs. Five years later, they decide to join up and form their own company.
WHY Ideas was built by three advertising creative executives Juan Diego Espinoza, Néstor Villalobos and Diego Vasquez, with an enterprise initiative for new concepts and ideas. As advertising creatives, they have stood out in several events such as the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, as well as gained popular national recognition over “Innovative Ideas.” With more than 8 years of experience in creative concepts and marketing, they decide that its time to make their own ideas a reality.
Together, Tree Interactive and WHY Ideas launch TweetLand with the premise of going beyond social games and starting a whole new range of possibilities around the concept of changing content in real time by the experiences of the people around the world, creating TweetLand, the first game that plays with reality.
Please tell us about TweetLand. What is the idea and goal behind the game?
TweetLand is the first videogame in the world that plays with reality. The game feeds real life experiences from people all over the world via Twitter to create content inside the game that will affect both gameplay and player. The game turns the tweets of the real world, in events on this virtual world. Some events affect the game to help the player, while other events provide challenges and difficult situations that the player will have to confront. For example, if a person in New York sees a traffic accident on 5th Avenue and reports it on Twitter, the “car accident” could happen on TweetLand. On the other hand, if at the same time in Australia, someone sees a shooting star and comments it on Twitter, a shooting star will appear on TweetLand. Same thing will happen when people tweet about events such as an earthquake, a tsunami, etc. Even though the game feeds from real time Twitter events, players don’t have to have an account on this social network to play the game. The game uses experiences from Twitter users around the world to create content for people playing TweetLand.
Our intention is to go beyond, not just gaming, but social experiences all over the world. Reinvent the concept of “Real-time gaming.” With TweetLand’s launch and the first game in the series, we want to take the first step towards this reinvention.
What has been the audience reaction? Can you share any stats around user engagement?
We have literally received support from people all over the world. The people are enthusiastic and want to play TweetLand.
We’ve received coverage in over 70 publications in international media around the world. We have been featured on CNN, Wired UK, San Francisco Chronicle, IndieGames.com, Touch Arcade, Pocket Gamer, Yahoo! News and many more. The project was crowd-funded via Kickstarter.com, collecting almost $9.000 with exclusive support from people all over the world that wanted to see this project finished.
We have been noticing that as social media becomes more mainstream, it is becoming an integral aspect of gaming by making new experiences possible. How do you see social gaming evolving? Do you see this trend manifesting on a larger scale?
We are definitely seeing a rising social experience for videogames, and it’s slowly becoming a vital aspect. They were born to be together. In our case in particular, we have seen from the beginning of the videogame era how they have tried to simulate the real world. Simulation genres, first person point of view, realistic graphics, motion capture, etc. Today we firmly believe that the next step is the integration of real life experiences from people around the world to generate content. And what better place to find those experiences than social networks. In multiple occasions, there has been attempts to simulate virtual society behaviors using complex algorithms to give realism to MMOs. We believe that a better approach is to see the real world and watch the chaos that exists in it to generate this simulation of events. The real world is fare more random than any random generator ever could be. We don’t know if this tendency we want to start will be adopted by other developers in the near future, but we do believe there isn’t a better way to replicate our reality than by gathering the collective experience that a society like ours offers nowadays. If the tendency of videogames towards hyper realism is maintained, we are sure we will see future games feed from collective experiences. Games based on experiences and not on predefined scripts. So real, like the real world, in which the personal events will be the currency rate.
What other trends within or around gaming have you noticed?
User-generated games. Today, more than ever, the gamer wants a game that will be in constant evolution. A game that will let you make your own creations in it, as well as being able to experience other players’ creations. Today’s players realize that being able to alter the game and create content and share it is more fun than ever, a very social experience at that. Games like Minecraft or Terraria in which you can build your worlds and weapons if you like is a pretty good example of this. Boxed games like World of Warcraft have to start reinventing themselves to be more flexible and adopt to the users changing needs. We believe the games should stop thinking on what the user wants and instead, give him tools so he can make or destroy what he wants himself. This opens up the possibility of the user finding new ways of playing the game that the developer didn’t dream of upon its creation (Little Big Planet is a pretty cool example of that). This not only favors the gamer, but it also removes the hassle of giving the developer constant content creation that has to be updated every 6 months.
The social aspect. Being able to socialize in the game and outside the game has never been this mainstream. Every big games we can think of uses some kind of social networking, not exclusively in digital form but in real form. Games like Starcraft, that use Battle.net 2 to create a virtual competitive society, makes the transition to real life in events like ¨Barcaft¨, where fans all over the world gather at bars to see their favorite competitors duke it out on tournaments, much like the concept of a sports bar. There are other games that we don’t expect to see in this list of social games such as Angry Birds, but even this game has given the community a social aspect by creating plushies and game toys in real life that automatically invites people that like the same game interact through real life just by mere recognition of characters.
Thanks Felipe, Alberto and Andrés!
To read more about what is going on in the gaming space today, read about our new report on The Future of Gaming.