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Is Twitter the world’s biggest videogame through gamification?

December 18, 2013 at 3:07 PM


by Mikul Patel

Digital Marketing Consultant at Matraxis

If you were to name the biggest videogames of all time, you think back to age old classics such as Pong, Pacman, Super Mario Brothers, or recent blockbusters such as Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto. These are wrong; the biggest videogame of all time award belongs to Twitter – well, that's according to Charlie Brooker's Videogames Changed the World which was shown the other week on Channel 4.


Initially confused, the more I thought about it, it became clear that this statement is probably true. How? You may ask. Well read on and see what aspects of gamification are found in a never ending game against over 231 million active users on Twitter.


twitter biggest videogame world


What is gamification?

As previously covered in an article about gamification in Facebook, gamification is the application of game thinking and gaming mechanics in non-game contexts. Gamification does not necessarily result in monetary gain, at least in the short term.


In today's digitally connected world, gamification can be found in a variety of situations to improve:

  • User engagement – keeping the end user addicted to your application e.g. free-to-play apps which reward you with digital incentives

  • Return on investment – developing continuous revenue stream as opposed to one-off fee e.g. micro-transactions as seen in mobile/tablet apps

  • Data quality – motivating users to contribute content in return for recognition e.g. community forums

  • Learning – an alternative approach to learning from books e.g. the Stock Market Challenge which aims to apply students' maths and business knowledge to a live stock market game



The Twitter gaming environment

So how does gaming in Twitter work? This could be an entire article on its own but i've summarised the gaming aspects that you can find in Twitter without even realising:


Your avatar

This is your Twitter profile/handle. Like we see in role-playing games such as World of Warcraft or Second Life, people use their Twitter 'avatar' to project their alternative personality. This especially applies to socially shy individuals or psychopaths!



Where Mario collects his golden coins, the same logic applies to Twitter as you accumulate retweets and favourites for your broadcasted messages. Collecting these 'golden coins' can become addictive. Whether you are a brand or individual on Twitter, we find ourselves thinking ahead about the messages we broadcast – down to what time to tweet, predicting the level of engagement and who will interact.


It is not uncommon for brands on Twitter to create competitions to increase their fan base and increase engagement.


Social status

Probably the key ego-boosting mechanism on Twitter, is your social status which is defined by the number of followers you have achieved. Big brands and celebrities have followers into the tens of millions and with that comes a high social influence. Going one step further, the coveted verification tick can act an authoritative stamp for your 'avatar'.



Gamers like to upgrade their characters to get an advantage over competitors. Likewise in Twitter, individuals and brands can pay for the privilege to promote accounts, tweets and trends.




So going back to the question, is Twitter the world's biggest videogame? A cynical person may point out that the term 'videogame' should only refer to physical consoles, but competitive features found in multiplayer games is visible in Twitter (unintentionally?) as users strive to gain the most followers and monetise them, especially if they are brands. So perhaps the title of "worlds biggest game" is more fitting?

Tags: Social Media Analytics Reporting Gamification Twitter Channel 4 Videogames
Category: Social Media News

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