Played With Twitter

Earlier this year, I mused aloud in an article about the point of Twitter and some of the effects it has had on the gaming community (which can be read here). It ended with a proposition from my editor to actually try the site for myself rather than question it from a distance and I accepted that challenge. Now a few months later what, if anything, have I learned now that I have played with Twitter?

I should begin with perhaps the most startling thing to happen during the period I was using Twitter. Back in January, Paul Chambers made an angry Tweet in which he threatened to blow an airport sky high due to it being closed. Earlier this week the story was given new life as Paul Chambers’ attempt to overthrow a conviction given to him earlier in the year was refused. This spurred Twitter users to create the hash tag #IamSpartacus in which members Tweeted the exact same thing Chambers had, which lead to apparently warranting his trial and eventual conviction. This was a wonderful show of support against this idiocy, which also included the second most followed man on Twitter (Stephen Fry) pledging to pay the fine issued to Chambers. It’s a good job the criminal justice system can’t hear the kind of statements made on Xbox Live or the teenage population of the world would be behind bars.

There’s one thing I don’t get about this story: how did it come to that? Where is the root of this stupidity? In a moment of flippancy Paul Chambers makes an angry Tweet…and then what? Terrorists don’t detail their plans publicly before the act on social networking sites. I can’t assume Chambers went to the pub that night boasting to friends or work colleagues about his slightly ill-thought and controversial, spur of the moment comment on a website he’s a member of either. That can only mean one of his followers, one of his stupid, moronic, intellectually challenged followers – that probably reads either The Sun or The Daily Mail – saw that Tweet and thought he was helping avert a major terrorist attack. If nothing else, Paul Chambers should walk away from this stupid moment in our judicial history not cursing the judge whose decision led to him losing his job and being vilified, but rather his choice of follower.

It isn’t hard to keep track of who follows you – unless you don’t care and just accept every request that comes your way. Over the course of my time with Twitter I received a lot of e-mails letting me know I was now being followed by what appeared to be bots looking to get as many people to listen to their marketing Tweets as possible. Though perhaps I am a little picky as well, leading to a measly thirteen people listening to what random things I have to say over the course of around 180 Tweets.

Still, let’s try to be a bit controversial anyway. Look above at the Tweet I did the other day. How dare I! Alan Sugar Tweets a Tweet during the two minute silence and the vegetable-like inhabitants of the UK call for his head despite him explaining it was clearly an error (the Tweet before it stated he was adhering to the silence), yet I categorically state that I wilfully spoke during that silence and nothing happened. As a little aside to the above point; if you want to honour the memory of dead soldiers then do it in the manner in which you live your life, not through some arbitrary two minute silence during which nothing symbolic is achieved and you spend the whole two minutes wondering if the two minutes are up yet.

With the general events of my time with Twitter out of the way, let’s get back to the main point here. As stated at the end of my original article I picked out a select few game industry related figureheads to see what, if anything, could be achieved by following them on Twitter (an alternative way to describe this act is, I believe, stalking). Among others connected to developer studios I like (such as Nippon Ichi’s UK and US branch) I followed fictional Kevin Butler, talks-a-lot Major Nelson, and childish Cliff Bleszinski.

In perhaps a fateful coincidence; it was not long after I started following Kevin Butler that the PS Move advertising campaign in which he moved in with the Maguire family began (#KBMovesin). For those struggling to follow this: it is a fictional person moving in with a fictional family to sell the fictional benefits of wasting money on Move.

It was probably too much to hope for that the Tweets were done by the team of writers that wrote the speech Butler’s actor read at E3 this year. That at least managed to make me laugh once or twice, whereas the Tweets are devoid of humour and instead just whore a different game or feature every few days. Granted that is the point of a mascot, but when I read them now I just can’t help but imagine him grinning like a moron as he says them through clenched teeth with a forced thumbs-up and a huge PS3 logo looming over his shoulder sticking a gun into his back.

Following Major Nelson had no unforeseen consequences, save perhaps feeling sorry for him when he broke the news that Microsoft had the audacity to charge more for a service which should be free and then had to weather the outrage that spewed towards him afterwards. The bottom line is that he’s a Microsoft puppet and as such everything he Tweets can largely be guessed: he plugs his site, his podcast, the deal-of-the-week and other nonsense. Recently he did manage to amuse me by pointing to a collection of Kinect reviews on his site – a collection that airbrushed any which heavily criticised the pointless and broken Xbox accessory.

If I were to give him some tips on Tweeting (me having the authority to do so naturally, despite him having almost one hundred and eighty thousand followers), I would suggest that he stop complaining about how much he travels. It must be terrible visiting places all over the world for free. We should start a charity hash tag #ForNelson.

A second (and late entry into this article) moment of amusement regarding Major Nelson’s Tweets happened five hours ago at the time of writing this, when even he could not hide his surprise that once again a Call of Duty game had a pathetically short campaign mode.

If you read my previous article you will recall that my editor warned me about Cliffy B. That is to say he warned me that the Gears of War creator Tweeted a lot (though in actuality Major Nelson Tweeted far more), but what he did not warn me about was the content of those Tweets.

Allow me to give you an example of a Cliff Bleszinski Tweet. He proudly let his followers know, in as clever an effort to be funny as you can expect from the man, that when his dog goes to the toilet twice in a row he would shout out “DOUBLE POOP!”

I have never seen ‘childish’ so personified as I have with this Cliff Bleszinski. It is no surprise to me now why he is so hyped about Bulletstorm or why he ruined Gears by turning it into repetitive melodrama. There was nothing unexpected about his temper tantrum against a site that reported a Microsoft rep saying that the Gears 3 delay was because it was too buggy for release or that he carries himself with an equally childish and undeserved arrogance regarding his position in the industry. It’s also no surprise to me that he takes pleasure in Retweeting insults he gets from other people, so that his army of equally childish followers can rain down incoherent insults while he secretly laments that not everyone in the world likes him.

I know, I know. Just stop following him. Where’s the fun in that? Following someone like Cliff Bleszinski helps confirm my belief that our species is doomed. If you are one of those overly optimistic types then get on Twitter, follow Cliffy B, and wait for the next inevitable Retweet he posts by some pathetic child somewhere in the world that wanted his birthday wishes to himself seen by just over forty thousand people.

<Recording begins>

Cliffy B wished me happy birthday!”

What? THE Cliffy B? That guy who makes bad sequels to initially pretty good games?”

Yeah!”

He really wished you happy birthday?”

Well, no, I wished myself happy birthday and asked him to Retweet it and he did! That’s almost like we’re friends!”

<Recording drifts into static and screams>

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Written by Ian D

Misanthropic git. Dislikes: Most things. Likes: Obscure references.

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