#TvsZ 6.0: A giant game of Twitter Red Rover
This weekend, I’ve been playing #TvsZ 6.0 with friends and students. The game is both like and unlike previous iterations. I have loved every version I’ve played so far, but this one may be my favorite.
Why? Because, though I love zombies, it turns out that getting rid of zombies has opened up more imaginative freedom for players. Zombies are such a dominant narrative, that when we are within that paradigm, as fun as it is, it controls our sense of possibilities. The various zombie tropes we know get deployed, reworked, and remixed in endlessly fascinating ways.
But take away the zombie master narrative, revise the underlying game action from involuntary or even violent transformation (#bite) to the more constructive valence of community building (#recruit), and the ethos of the game transforms. We still play for fun, and players feel loyalty to their teams (more on that in a moment), but tweets tend toward “I want you on my team, so I #recruit you” rather than the “I’m going to get you despite your protest, so I #bite you”.
Of course, there’s still a LOT of trash-talking (and I may be among the worst offenders in this realm). I don’t have time to paste in tweets to show this, but search on the #TvsZ hashtag and you’ll see the banter among players from different teams.
Why I’m a #teamtech member
I began as a #teamtech member because I figured it would be the less popular of the two initial teams (nature vs technology). Also, our plan as we developed the game concept was to invite players to hack the binary of the two original teams, so I figured I’d be moving on to a third team in fairly short order.
Very quickly–more quickly than we’d planned–a third team (#bovine) established itself, and for a while a fourth (#dragon) and even fifth team (#fish). Then the cows and the dragons combined forces in what can only be described as the triumph of creative imagination: and so was born the team I call “the flying cows”, team #dragonbovine, a group of fun-loving, firebreathing flying cows.
I immediately wanted to join them. Who doesn’t love the sheer silliness of it? And I was gratified when a few #DB players made attempts to #recruit me to their team. Part of me really wanted to join them, to glory in the linguistic punning and visual potential of such an imaginative identity.
But I resisted, out of a sense of loyalty to my (at the time, dwindling) team. Ah, what a tough call 🙂
Technology, Nature, and Imagination
As I think of it now, these three teams embody three sets of values and bases of human thought. They are, clearly, not incompatible. In fact, I’d argue that the (constructs) nature, technology, and imagination are entirely interdependent and deeply interconnected. And maybe that the real beauty of this version of #TvsZ: instead of opposing sides (humans vs zombies), this time we have interconnected, interdependent perspectives working separately but with awareness of each other.
If I were trying to build a game that would suggest an avenue of hope for our collective future–a future threatened by so many challenges at both local and global scales–I’d want something like #TvsZ 6.0, as it has emerged through the players’ own initiative. We need technological solutions to some gloabal warming challenges, but we also need imagination and creativity and lightness-of-touch to choose among and advance those solutions, and we desperately need people who care deeply about our environments, be they natural or participatory communities.
Many players embody this ethos. Here’s one example. One player was confused about the rules, and another player helped her out:
— Jennifer Lane (N) (@JenNotebook) November 16, 2014
So what is the ethos of #teamtech? I can’t speak for my teammates, but my sense is that we are motivated by a desire to improve our collective way of life by recognizing the sheer variety and richness of human innovation. We defend the pursuit of knowledge for it’s own sake (#gogeeks), and we trust that people in teams imagination (the flying cows) and nature will balance us with their wisdom and kindness.
Plus, we seem to love to make Star Wars, Star Trek, and other nerdy film references. #Gogeeks!