A post on The Secret World's blog discusses how fans of the game set up Twitter accounts for their characters and began role-playing as their avatars. Funcom decided to take the idea and build upon it.
On the blog, Funcom writer Joshua Alan Doetsch talks about how the interactions between fans and their in-game characters on Twitter helped them develop the idea for the Twitterverse Experiment, in which they created Twitter accounts for non-player characters in the game.
The six current NPCs on Twitter are @The_Buzzing, @PrunePrince, @CorporateBlues, @Innsmouth66, @katanaguyissue1, and @BoomBoom_Man. All of these handles use #hivehum and interact with the game's players. Missions that take place both in and out of the game are assigned every Tuesday and have steadily been giving players lots to do over the last few weeks.
From the blog, here are the missions from the first few weeks of role-playing on Twitter:
- Week 1: Valentine's Day - The Buzzing intercepted some smartphone pics and broadcast them with cryptic messages. Saïd, curious, offered a monetary reward (Funcom Points) for more info, leading players on a search for the places and people referenced in the pictures — eventually leading to Danny and Carter, in Kingsmouth, and their awkward teen romance.
- Week 2: Spy vs Spy - Leaked hints indicated that one of the Secret Worlders on Twitter was an informant for the Orochi Group. Saïd offered payment for proof, and players were encouraged to incriminate each other with creative pics. Paranoid escapades ensue. In the end, Saïd handed out rewards for the best incriminating pics, and Kirsten Geary gave a bribe to the "alleged" spy (a "counter-offer" for future employment).
- Week 3: Orochi Research - The Buzzing murmured cryptic hints that sent players on to investigate an Orochi camp in Egypt, and to hack the Orochi website for information on an abandoned time travel project. Participating players did an impressive amount of research on the "time tomb" of Brompton cemetery, giving them a wealth of real-world mythos relevant to Issue 6: The Last Train to Cairo
- Week 4: Radio Hack - In our most ambitious Twitter mission, we recruited TSW's player-driven, in-character RP radio station, Radio Free Gaia (@radiofreegaia) to our cause, and they performed beautifully. At midnight, on March 6th, the radio station's live stream was interrupted by a pirating signal (the Buzzing), cutting in with distorted sounds and a stolen audio log from the Orochi time-travel project. The DJ came back on, disturbed that her show was unexpectedly taken over by an alien signal. Listening and seeing this all play out, on the air and on Twitter, was one of the most satisfying things I've done on this job. It was like a mix of MMO, Twitter roleplay, and Orson Welle's War of the Worlds. The Buzzing continued to broadcast their message every hour. Eventually, a clever player figured out that the distorted sounds were actually an image encoded in audio form. Translating the sound back to the image led the players to an in-game object, and a gory story in the Modern Prometheus.
- Week 5: Kirsten Geary Pics - Nassir joins Twitter and, not quite understanding the medium, accidentally releases drunk pictures of Kirsten Geary. Saïd took the chance to defame his Internet rival, encouraging players to create their own incriminating pics. Player participation was as enthusiastic as it was hilarious.
Doetsch explains that the players have fleshed out their characters through the Twitter role-playing and that it could be great fun for both casual and hardcore fans. The sheer amount of lore that's been generated from the role-playing community is enough to occupy a player for a good while.
Check out the blog to learn more. And let us know what you think about role-playing outside the confines of a video game. Are you for it or against it? Sound off!