One of the highlights of the sideshows at Webstock last year was playing the Webstock Card Game – collecting trading cards and trying to get the highest score. Game-playing was a big aspect of 2009, as Hadyn Green wrote in his Public address post:
Bruce Sterling’s “Web 2.0 guys: they’ve got their laptops with whimsical stickers, the tattoos, the startup T-shirts, the brainy-glasses — you can tell them from the general population at a glance” caused us to start a game where we had to find that exact person.
It was me who won that challenge, pulling Darren Wood out of the crowd, which meant I got to set the next challenge. We hunted through the afterparty looking for content creators, foreigners and public servants and the like. We got to meet new people and start new conversations and it was a lot of fun.
Conversations on Twitter lately centered on what kind of games we could play this year that would enhance our Webstock experience. I think that so much of the value of the conference lies in the people you meet, both in terms of new friends to make and also new business contacts, so I figured that meeting as many people as possible should be part of the game. Collecting business cards would be one way, but what if we could use Twitter to keep track of what was going on? So I tweeted this, in hopes of some crowd-sourced help:
“We need random bingo sheet generator with twitter icons to cross off when you meet that person @ #webstock. Who can make this happen please?”
Because we were doing a lot of our planning over Twitter, we’d already started using a hashtag #webstockbingo to keep our thoughts together. We decided that people should opt into the game, so we asked them to tweet yes and include the hashtag so we could keep track of who wanted to play. Using our accounts and also the Wellingtonista twitter account, we soon found over 50 people who wanted to play, even though they didn’t know quite what to expect.
Testing the autotweets from the game, we saw some negative feedback from people who weren’t playing, who didn’t want #webstockbingo cluttering up their timelines. Although some people use twitter clients that can block particular hash tags, I realised that the easiest way to keep people happy would be to set up a new twitter account so that only people who were following @wsbingo would see game updates, and then only ones from people they were already following. Having a specific webstock bingo twitter account also makes it easier to do official announcements and follow people who are playing the game who I wouldn’t personally follow.
Now the challenge was to explain the game to everyone. 140 characters wasn’t really enough space, so we wrote out some rules, and then added an FAQ. Hopefully it all makes sense to people. Walter’s done a lot of tweaking behind the scenes, and I’ve been talking the game up everywhere, including making sure it’s included in the other Webstock Game.We’re launching it this afternoon before the Official Wellingtonista (unofficial) Webstock Warm-Up that I’ve organised, so hopefully tonight and tomorrow and Friday all our participants will have even more incentive to meet new people and have a great time. So, if you get me on your board, come say hi, buy me a drink for extra points, and let’s chat. Awesome.