Game talkTwitter, status, and /tell

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Feb 072009
 

Hasn’t It Always Been About Status? is a little article tracing the status update mania (such as Twitter) to AIM status messages.

I have now spent two days with Twitter, and I have decided that it is basically guild chat in Internet-the-MMO. It’s a form of /grouptell, and we’re all out slaying bookmarks instead of orcs.

Putting it in TwitterFox in my browser rather than in Twhirl on my desktop helped this perception a lot, since I use Firefox for my feedreading (Sage), my FTP (FireFTP), my IRC (ChatZilla), MP3 player (FoxyTunes)…

Which made me think back to a feature that I put into LegendMUD in 1995 or 96. We already had an AFK command. It used to be

> AFK

and when someone sent you a tell, they got

Ptah is away from the keyboard.

but then we added

> AFK Grabbing something to eat.

which relayed that status to the user.

But then we said “gosh, scrolling back through all of these missed tells is very annoying!” So we added a feature to record the tells you missed. When you came back, you typed

> AFK

and got back something like

While you were away, you got these messages:

Hey, we’re thinking of dinner at Rudy’s, wanna come?

Oh never mind, I see you ate. :)

At the time, I thought of this as an answering machine. Now it seems like a direct message in Twitter.

Perhaps a recipe for the next big viral technologies on the Internet is go through the various basic things that were present in muds, and figure out the HTTP-based versions of them that people would want in the sidebars of their browsers.

When we think of the Internet going virtual-worldy, it’s going to be on the back of technologies like these, rather than our classic conception of what a virtual world is. It will be by absorbing all thee features of virtual worlds except placeness, because placeness will be embedded rather than being the context.

  17 Responses to “Twitter, status, and /tell”

  1. Twitter, especially while using Mibbit, has very quickly become one of my internet essentials. Especially now that BreakingNewsOn is reporting through Twitter. I can keep on top of everything important to me. Or at least run alongside, gasping for air.

  2. This is quite possibly the most brilliant observation I’ve read in a VERY long time! Thanks for pointing it out! (oh and clearly I agree with your opinion here)

  3. I’ve always thought of Twitter as a backwards approach to communication. Instead of pushing yourself into conversations, you’re pulling conversations to you.

    Think of Twitter as an IRC server with only one channel. Every user starts out blind with “ignore all” set, but every user can “filter in” other users by adding exceptions.

  4. Heh, I’ve actually thought of the Twitter-as-IRC comparison before. It really does seem like that. As for the original post though… well, in a sense, it does seem like that too. It is an interesting observation.

  5. [...] Raph’s Website » Twitter, status, and /tell var addthis_pub = ‘olivarkamprojo'; var addthis_language = ‘en';var addthis_options = ‘email, favorites, digg, delicious, myspace, google, facebook, reddit, live, more';       [...]

  6. [...] Raph’s Website » Twitter, status, and /tell Why do I blog this: Raph's always interesting, but I do think he's taking a (understandable, really) MMO approach to analysing Twitter (tags: twitter trend communication social conversation raphkoster mmo gaming) [...]

  7. Interesting line of thought and I agree. I actually made this comment a couple days ago on someone else’s blog who was talking about overall fixes they’d like to see to MMOs…

    We had virtual worlds…they were telnet…and later…chat rooms and message boards. All we have done to them since is make them more aesthetically pleasing and added some functionality.

    I’m an old gamer by modern standards. What modern gamers may think is new a lot of the time isn’t.

  8. [...] rather amusing analysis of Twitter by Raph Koster, who compares it to guild chat. Which, when you think about it, is kind of true. Perhaps a recipe [...]

  9. I’m an old gamer by modern standards. What modern gamers may think is new a lot of the time isn’t.

    But people will pay for things they think is new. So…um… shhhh!! :)

  10. @Todd – Very true. I will keep quiet. LOL

  11. Makkaio, added functionality? Heck, we’ve lost a lot of functionality. :(

  12. Is it interesting to think of it in reverse? How MMO tell systems could benefit from being more like Twitter?

    It’s interesting to see this general trend in peeling back of information layers starting to converge into post-invention phase — Twitter, WoW’s Achievements system, Kongregate…

  13. To the hammer, everything looks like a nail.

    You don’t just slay bookmarks in Twitter, people in part use it “the way it was intended” and answer the question “what are you doing,” and in part just spout out their thoughts. That doesn’t fit with the MMORPG thing which has more structure.

    There is nothing in Twitter that can fetch back AFK status messages. The direct message in Twitter is just an email. It doesn’t go to the person who has gone offline out of their IM; you have to consciously chose the DM as a mode to speak to them privately.

    There is placeness. That’s called “Second Life”.

    The next thing people would want I would think is inventory. On the side somewhere, that would have say, business cards, bookmarks, interesting thoughts, clips from articles, as little tokens/thingies.

    Then spells perhaps.

    But…the MUD/MMORPG metaphor really only takes you so far!

  14. Twitter isn’t like the IRC channels.

    People going into IRC channels are segregated by a theme or world or game or subject or something. They are inside a silo, whatever opensource blah-blah you might wrap around it. The channel enfolds the speakers; they are in that channel and that gives them that tribal sense and clubiness.

    On Twitter, it is far, far more random. You pick random people out of the flow, you search on a key word and follow due to a key word, you are constantly mixing and matching a channel blended with others, so it’s not a channel.

  15. The similarity to the AFK message is that the last status you put up stays up. Many folks used the old AFK system all the time, even if they were actually there, just to be able to provide a status message. There was also a “title” system often used whereby people could put the equivalent of a status message visible when someone got a listing of who was online.

    Obviously, I was being a little facetious in making the analogy. Of course you don’t just slay bookmarks. But the social feeling is remarkably similar.

  16. [...] Raph’s Website — Twitter, status, and /tell "I have now spent two days with Twitter, and I have decided that it is basically guild chat in Internet-the-MMO. It’s a form of /grouptell, and we’re all out slaying bookmarks instead of orcs. Perhaps a recipe for the next big viral technologies on the Internet is go through the various basic things that were present in muds, and figure out the HTTP-based versions of them that people would want in the sidebars of their browsers. [...]

  17. [...] Twitter, status and /tell [...]

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