Subversive Play – TinderTacToe

Every conversation with the nice Tinder folk who played along (or not)

Tinder Tac Toe is fairly simple. I created a Tinder account and asked people to play tic tac toe with me. A bit about Tinder: it’s a photo based meet-up app that shows pictures of people, their age, their gender, and their first name. It has a system to “like” or “nope” people with the swipe of a finger. Users can either make their decision based solely on the first picture or investigate a user’s profile to see other photos or slightly more detailed information. In order to talk to someone through the app, you must both “like” each other. Once two people have “liked” each other, they receive an invitation to begin a conversation. Because of this system, Tinder tends to be a “numbers game”, where people like everyone in order to maximize the amount of people they can. Playing off this principle, I decided that I would like everyone and wait for people to contact me.

I decided to use the same line with everyone once they greeted me. I made sure to not just jump right into the game and acknowledge their greeting first. The greeting I used was “I think tinder can be weird to wanna break the ice with a game of tic tac toe? I’ll go first”. Then I sent a 3×3 grid of question marks and placed my first x somewhere. If it seemed too unnatural to use my scripted prompt, I just asked them in an organic way if they wanted to play tic tac toe.

Surprisingly, most people played along! Some people just laughed or asked if I was serious, but most people figured out how to play along. Usually when the game was over one of three things happened: the person wanted to play again or play another game, the conversation ended, or the person felt like I owed them something. There were never more than 2 games of tic tac toe in any conversation; however, I did have some people suggest some interesting games for us to continue gameplay. A few people suggested trivia and one person suggested a riddle game. These people rarely began flirting, it was almost as if by making Tinder a game platform it had lost it’s flirtation purpose. The people who simply ended the conversation may have come to a similar conclusion.

The most interesting conversations happened where the flirtation continued during and after the game. I often found I had to “play” tinder in order to get people to agree or continue to play tic tac toe. These people were also often disappointed (or indignant!) when I didn’t want to meet them or continue talking to them outside of playing games on Tinder.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by how many people were game to play along with me. I was also surprised that it seemed to get people out of “tinder” mindset and into a more playful mindset. I used tinder when I was single (unsuccessfully) as a way to meet people and conversations often got…lewd. I only had one encounter (it’s documented in the photo!) where someone asked me something inappropriate. I think that playing a childhood game brought people out of a tinder mindset and into a more genuine atmosphere to just interact on a platonic level.


Subversive Play

Take two laptops, two keyboards, two mice, and at least one person who’s never played Portal, and you’ll have all the equipment I had for my misplayed game.

By simply plugging the keyboard and mouse into the other person’s computer, you’re now in control of what the other play sees, unable to see what actions you yourself are performing. While at the inception of my idea, I believed this would be a lot of fun, it turned out to be very frustrating and turn into instructional step-by-step exchanges in commands. It didn’t help that MacKenzie hadn’t played the game before, but the biggest frustration was probably the variation in our mouse sensitivities. Without knowing how sensitive our mice were, I over compensated to move less since he moved a lot and vice versa for him. Without an interface for feedback, one player is forced to offer feedback to the other, and feedback exchange isn’t the most exciting gameplay.

Playing the game, you feel blind and hopeless. You don’t know what you’re doing most of the time, and can only figure things out by talking or looking at each other in game. The game felt particularly anti-social as well, as the only thing you could talk about was how to correct what the other play was doing wrong, which isn’t fun for either player.

As a gameplay mechanic, I’d say this was an unfun failure; as an experiment, a success. While it didn’t provide either of us with fun, it did show me the importance of a seamless feedback loop, and how videogames can ensure players enjoy the bounds and limits of their systems without having to enforce them.

MacKenzie-Subversive Play

Subversive Cooperation

The idea is simple take any single player console game and make it a cooperative experience for a number of players (2-4).

The setup is easy.

  1. All players sit facing the TV in a line.
  2. Setup the looping countdown (here) for 7 seconds
  3. Launch a game
  4. When the countdown alarm rings, pass the controller

When tested with two players on Forza 5 and Titanfall, the mod did create an engaging and fun cooperative experience. The cooperation did come at a cost though as we did not do as well in the games as we would have on our own. But with practice this “hot potato” style of play could be perfected. Nevertheless, the mod makes these games fun for a group of friends to play together and rebels against the stereotype that the only way to play these games is to be alone in a dark basement.