Twitter is a battlefield. That retweet may look innocent now, but for at least one site, it's a swinging broadsword. This is Tweeria, the self-proclaimed Lazy Twitter RPG. If you've got a Twitter account, you're already playing it, whether you know it or not.
The result is a deranged mirror of Twitter, placing you in endless war with everyone you follow
Everything that happens on Tweeria starts with something that happened on Twitter — a retweet, for instance, or an @-reply back-and-forth — but in Tweeria, it gets translated to a battleaxe or a fireball. The program pulls data direct from Twitter’s API, creating a character for every account, and assigning health and strength stats based on number of tweets and follower count. If you’re lucky, you’ll be raiding a dungeon with your friends. If you’ve turned on the player-vs-player setting, you’ll be fighting each other. The result is a deranged mirror of Twitter, placing you in endless war with everyone you follow. "Killing" your friends is commonplace.
To hear the creators tell it, the idea was to make a new kind of social game, where the mere act of being social is all it takes to play. It's built on top of Twitter the same way Farmville is built on top of Facebook, but requiring as little user input as possible. Like Klout, Tweeria gives you an incentive for the same kinds of conversation-starting and audience-building that make Twitter worthwhile in the first place. If you’re good at Twitter, you’ll be good at Tweeria too.
This guy got killed by the pope
"We wanted to create a more social kind of social game," designer Alex Shteinikov told The Verge. "For us, the real game is played outside Tweeria." He describes organizing group dungeon raids around important soccer matches, when all his friends are tweeting at each other. It may look like World of Warcraft — there are orcs and dungeons, after all, and much of the art is cribbed directly from Blizzard — but the players are still more tweeters than gamers.
disabled pvp on tweeria because im sick of murdering everyone i know— Amber Eeeeeee (@rare_basement) December 20, 2012
The mirror-Twitter also means there are a lot of famous people on Tweeria — and you're likely to cross swords with them at some point. For the most part, they haven’t signed up, so they tend to be on the losing end of battles. After two days of Tweeria, I'd already vanquished singer/producer Grimes (sorry!) and avenged the death of the poet Eileen Myles. In a more spectacular example, this guy got killed by the Pope.
At the same time, it's difficult to predict exactly how Tweeria will translate your Twitter feed. One retweet might turn into a blood feud, another a team-up. "Part of the excitement has been sussing out the invisible rules of Tweeria," said Miso Susanowa, a player who wrote the most extensive user guide so far. Anyone in your network is a potential target, but you never know when or why. The element of chaos is part of the appeal.
i really want to tweet and get my tweeria guy some cool items & levels but i dont have anything to say— Tiernan O'Saurus (@Irish_Dinosaur) December 20, 2012
"Part of the excitement has been sussing out the invisible rules of Tweeria."
And at least so far, the game is doing well. Shteinikov says they have about 14,000 registered users, with as many as 18,000 visits a day. They've also run into their share of growing pains, thanks to a portion of the game that lets users create their own spells and upload their own images. In recent weeks, they've been flooded with copyright-violating images and, perhaps more predictably, obscene spells — despite the creators asking users, please, "do not turn Tweeria into 9gag."
The next step is a mobile version, so users can check in on their characters whenever they check Twitter. They’ll also have to stay on the right side of Twitter’s tightening developer guidelines — but as long as they’re dealing in orcs and dungeons, they should have an easier time than most.