HOW TWITWORDY WAS BORN
For several months in the summer of 2011, I had been thinking about the interconnected nature of social media platforms, and in particular the framework, within which Twitter operates.
The original format of Twitter itself was dictated by the limitations of the phone text messaging system, for which it was originally designed. As it turned out, the imposition of these arbitrary limits on message length, username length, and the use of @reply, RT, @DM and #Hashtags meant that people were given a usable structure to communicate within. Where a blank screen, of limitless length could seem a little intimidating, the focus on short messages, which was so successful, meant that people were happier to communicate in a similar casual way to the spoken word.
I believed that many of these self-imposed rules resembled those of a board game, and could be the framework for a new game which was unique to every player. Not only that, but other than private accounts, every single message on Twitter is in the public domain, and visible to all. The clincher was that most Twitter accounts identify the user by their real name, as well as having a unique Twitter name for every member. As my background is in recruitment, and specifically online recruitment, I was well aware of the connectedness of people on Twitter. The advance of social media has meant that the famous 6 degrees of separation (the average number of steps to connect any 2 people in the world) has shrunk enormously. Reports show that via Facebook that figure is 3.74, and on Twitter its as low as 3.43. Combine this with the 100 million+ active users of Twitter, and that each person has an average of 115 followers, and we can see that there is an immense overlapping worldwide network of individuals. At current rates, these users produce over 250 million tweets per day.
Having devised the central premise of the game, I bought the domain, registered the Twitter accounts and in true social media fashion, posted a blog about it. http://ayeright.com/2011/08/request-for-help-twitwordy/
Within days, I was contacted by Raghu Prasad, an Indian living in Brussels, who was extremely enthusiastic about the project. Raghu’s development team in Bangalore wrote the scripts which would extract data from the Twitter API, and the puzzle engine, which generates the crossword and clues for each game.