Saturday, September 23, 2017

Gaming By Tweet: A Social Media Experiment

Back in July I posted a review here about Target for Today, a solitaire game by Legion Wargames, about the US daylight bombing campaign in WW2.   For now it suits my gaming lifestyle, which has largely had to adapt itself to my primary role as my wife’s caregiver.

In the last few months, a social media project has taken on a life of its own as I have been “live tweeting” missions using my Twitter account (@madpadre1).   It started by putting my Twitter friends into crew positions on “Foxtrot”, our fictitious B17, and seeing if they would survive each mission.   A few folks (Tweeps) seem to quite enjoy the experience, which I have gradually thickened by adding GIFs and period photos to illustrate various phases of the mission.    The cumulative effect is a kind of storytelling by gaming, but it has also fuelled my desire to learn more about the US 8th Air Force in Britain and the daylight precision bombing campaign in general.

This particular project is set in the fall of 1942, following one of the first operational USAAF bombardment groups in England.  It is the same period depicted in the film Twelve OClock High, when the daylight campaign was still very experimental.

I have started collecting the various tweets for each mission into narratives using the online tool Storify.   You can see the results for Missions Five, Six, and Seven if you like.   Now the interesting thing abut the project is to see if Foxtrot can make it through the war, which is no small thing given the high casualty rates among Allied bomber crews.   Already we have had two crew members set home to the States with serious, war-ending wounds, and on our last mission the Bombardier, who had flown six missions already, was killed by a cannon shell from an ME 110.  

In this respect the project has started to incorporate elements of role-playing, and a strong emotional investment from some of the regular players in their fates.  There is also a lot of humour and joking, so it is not a terribly serious venture, but serious enough in its own way.

After our last mission there was some talk on Twitter about adapting the Target For Today game engine to the night campaign of Bomber Command.    Such a project could be done easily enough, but the game would have a different feel, more cat and mouse as opposed to the stoic endurance of waves of fighters by the B17s, which is more like a British square facing repeated attacks in Napoleonic or colonial warfare.   It might be done using some existing titles, such as GMT’s Nightfighter

There are also possibilities for using social media platforms such as Twitter in other games, such as putting people into various roles in a skirmish miniatures game and illustrating the action with photos to explain the action as the game goes along.  This would not be a true gaming experience online, such as tools like VASSAL allow, but rather a type of storytelling.

At any rate, Foxtrot is scheduled to fly more missions, and you are welcome to follow me on Twitter and even fly along.  I look forward to hearing about your own experiments with gaming via social media.

Blessings to your die rolls and watch your arcs!



  1. That does sound like something to experience!

  2. I read this blog on a target for tonight game recently

    Domesticated Bill currently on the road in the Canadian Rockies without passwords

  3. Very interesting. I have the GMT Nightfighter game, but I'm yet to get a game in. I've played Hunter, the solo submarine game and that has potential for the Tweeter treatment. That said, I'm not sure I can keep myself to 120 characters.

  4. I understand this is an update to the classic (and wonderful) B-17 Queen of the Skies. I'd love to hear more about this very interesting experiment!

  5. When I was still working, I used to have the desk next to the archivist responsible for the archives side of the 8th USAAF Memorial Collection in Norwich.

    Drop me an e-mail I'll see what I have on the 8th that I can get in the post for you.

  6. Oh, and the first time I visited my wife's home we sat in the garden listening the the gunfire from the filming of 'Memphis Belle'.

  7. Anyone interested, check out Padres Twitter account. There may be an opening for a tail gunner if the current gunner, the lovable Swede, goes back stateside in a wheelchair...

  8. This game is really awesome. I am waiting for its new version. Love to play such games.


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