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Video Game News? A Little Bluebird Told Me.

In the past few months I joined Twitter. 

I am not a prolific social media personality or even fluent in the modern day social media lingo.  In context, I was in college 10 years ago when Mark Zuckerberg invented Facebook.  At the time access was restricted to users with an ".edu" e-mail address.  We used the exclusivity to post pictures that we did not want our family to see.  After my mother joined Facebook I remained logged off for a few years and in my resurface to social media on Twitter I remain thankful that my mother is not (yet) on Twitter.

Just like a carrier pigeon...except blue and tiny which only allows for 140 characters per message. 

As a gamer I have discovered that Twitter is a magical space on the internet where game developers are interactive with players in real time conversations.  It's a space where Community Managers are geniuses who can maintain the activity of a game's social media with daily interactions that spurs other fans to join in rather than to move onto the Twitter account of the next big release.

In mass popular culture, gaming remains an outlier.  Consider this.  Naughty Dog has 483,000 Twitter followers, Larry Hryb (Xbox spokesperson) has 657,000 Twitter followers, and BioWare has 346,000 Twitter followers.  In comparison, the original Teen Moms of MTV's popular realty television show of the same name have the following follower count - Farrah Abraham 911,000 - Maci Bookout 1.27 million - Catelynn Lowell 844,000.  Yep, major video game personalities and developers have less Twitter followers than MTV reality stars.

In my short time on Twitter, I have noticed a few developers with Community Managers who are particularly adroit at maintaining an interactive Twitter account.

343 Industires (Halo 4), @HaloWaypoint

@HaloWaypoint is described as the "Official account for 343 Industries, developer of Halo 4."

Halo 4 launched in November 2012 and the following year in October 2013 Halo 4: Game of the Year Edition released.  With a one and a half year old game, the Twitter account remains active with freebie contests, Halo trivia, announcements of new multiplayer modes, highlights of community members' Halo themed art, and responses to fans' inquiries.

My new purchase of the Halo 4: GOTY edition combined with my status as a Halo noob left me unsure of how to integrate into the multiplayer community.  With the maximum level at 130, special unlocks, and the propensity of players voting for preferred game modes I was a newbie in an well-established community.  However, @HaloWaypoint's active Twitter assured me that new kids remained welcome and to jump on into the fray.  I booted up the game and attempted its multiplayer over a year after its initial release.  I customized my Spartan (a steaming coffee cup icon is available as a personal emblem).  In matches, I laughed when a player controlled flying craft flew past me and the turret I manned only to come back from behind and run me over.  I laughed harder when I nabbed the spawned concussion rifle and got a double kill.  Sure I made silly mistakes but in the frantic gameplay of Halo there is always another match in a few minutes and a new multiplayer mode to try.   

@HaloWaypoint continues Tweeting throughout each day interacting with its players and constantly coming up with clever response quips.  In response to my own comment @HaloWaypoint and I had the following exchange which encouraged me to jump into the game despite my newness:

Harebrained Schemes (Shadowrun Returns/Shadowrun: Dragonfall), @WeBeHarebrained

Now considered one of the famous video game KickStarter stories, Harebrained Schemes released Shadowrun Returns in July 2013 and just dropped the Shadowrun Dragonfall expansion in February 2014. 

Shadowrun Returns is a favorite of mine from 2013 and I am eager to try out Shadowrun: Dragonfall.  The series is a 2D isometric turn based adventure.  Building character stats, conversation choices unlocking based on character attributes, turn based combat, and novella type descriptions for in-game interactions hooked me.  I was reminded of the type of games that originally began my time sink into gaming engrossed in creative and imaginative stories.

 My only frustration was a checkpoint save system that had limited checkpoints which kept me from playing the final chapter due to the time commitment needed to see the sequence to the end.  While mourning the insufficient time during my lunch break at work to begin and complete the chapter I voiced my gaming frustrations via Twitter.  Harebrained Schemes not only playfully responded but informed me that accompanied with the Shadowrun: Dragonfall expansion was a new save system that included a save system patch for Shadowrun Returns. 

Getting the opportunity to gleefully sink my time in Shadowrun: Dragonfall is one of my next most anticipated gaming goals.

Rare (Kinect Sports), @RareLtd

Rare's media blitz for Kinect Sports Rivals is stunning.  Kinect Sports is a bright spot in the Kinect's limited game library.  Personally, I am a fan of the franchise's rendition of soccer.  Many if not most gamers remain dubious about the Kinect's long term durability and ability to anchor a "must play" game. 

Xbox One's Kinect based Rare title is Kinect Sports Rivals which is unreleased but a free playable demo is available.  Using the free demo, Rare hosted a worldwide contest for wake racing throughout February 2014 with in-game prizes for the inhabitants of the winning country (New Zealand was the victor).  Even without the demo, Rare keeps its Twitter active with a weekly Rare themed cake picture, engages in obscure Rare trivia, and interacts with their followers.  But the most impressive accomplishment?    

This past Friday's cake was a goodbye to an employee, Mike, who is moving to Spain with a Banjo-Mike (in lieu of Banjo-Kazooie). 

I have not yet had the pleasure (or the finances while I plan my wedding) to upgrade to the next console generation.  But I can tell you that Kinect Sports Rivals releases on April 8, 2014 because of Rare's active and interesting Twitter feed.  Congrats Rare, your Twitter account got me.  Good luck on April 8!   

(Gamer pro tip for wedding planning:  When your fiancée agrees that you can include an Xbox One in the wedding registry do not later refer to your wedding day as "the day I get an Xbox One."  Trust me on this.) 

Xbox Support, @XboxSupport

Xbox is on Twitter @XboxSupport and boasts "Guinness World Record Holder: Most Responsive Brand on Twitter!"  This claim may in fact be true based on my own experience and the fact that I abhor making telephone calls to customer service hotlines for a variety of reasons.

I bought the season pass for Telltale Games' The Wolf Among Us which gives me access to episodes 2, 3, 4, and 5 for the price of 3 episodes.  The Wolf Among Us, Episode Two: Smoke and Mirrors became available on the Xbox 360 on February 5, 2014.  On February 6, 2014 I bought the season pass for $14.99 but upon queuing the download for episode 2 I was prompted to pay the $4.99 cost for individual episodes. 

On the same day of episode two's release, Xbox Support informed gamers via Twitter that Xbox was investigating the bug that many were experiencing where The Wolf Among Us season pass holders could not download episode 2 without paying for the episode again.  By the next day Xbox Support instituted a short term solution of providing season pass owners with a redeemable code for episode 2 and asked all impacted by the bug to wait 48 hours for their code.

After 2 days, I didn't receive my code and faced with the dilemma of paying for the season pass but unable to download episode 2 without paying an additional cost, I considered my options.  I abhor making telephone calls to customer service hotlines for a variety of reasons and I also did not want to wait further for episode 2.  So, I sent a tweet:

Within minutes I received a response.  Constricted to 140 characters I exchanged several tweets with @XboxSupport in roughly the same amount of time I would spend on hold while on the telephone.  Instead of listening to customer service's music on a loop, I checked my Twitter from my smartphone and responded accordingly while I continued my day.  By the end of the day I received a code for episode 2 which downloaded flawlessly.  My only problem?  I had an early morning the next morning and I did not have the time to begin playing the game.  Overall, the solution was a series of tweets and an e-mail with my account information.

Respawn Entertainment (Titanfall), @Respawn

@Respawn is "The Official Twitter Feed of Respawn Entertainment, creators of Titanfall."  The game developer was famously interactive with Titanfall's players during the recent Titanfall beta.  Information releases continue trickling through @Respawn as well as the Twitter accounts of multiple Respawn employees.  Official announcements are even disclosed through the various Respawn Twitter accounts such as Vince Zampella @VinceZampella (co-founder of Respawn and co-creator of the Call of Duty franchise) tweeting "About playing early: We won't stop or ban legit copies.  It is prelaunch, so there may be interruptions in service as we prep servers."  The information made headlines at many video game news outlets.   

In a Titanfall fun fact Mr. Zampella tweeted that he is curious who will receive the numbered 1 copy of Titanfall's Collector's Edition, he has number 34.   

Personally, I stumbled onto the Twitter conversation below Matthew Everett, Electronic Arts' Community Manager for Titanfall, and Abbie Heppe, the Community Manager for Respawn Entertainment. 

I am Megan Hammond, @rhia29, and I voiced my support for a subtitled English Titanfall trailer.  Mr. Everett positively responded to my comment.  While his response is no guarantee, it is both a response and attempt at adding subtitles to Titanfall's trailer.  I am appreciative. 

Clearly I am an Xbox gamer given my Twitter examples but nevertheless gaming is gaming.  Twitter is perfect for quick answers to gamers' burning questions, for continuing the conversation long after and long before the game's release, as well as for validating players' questions and comments. 

Plus, I got a Twitter favorite from Respawn!

Are you on Twitter?

Do you use social media to follow up on your favorite games?

What is your preferred social media avenue for connecting with your favorite game developers?

 

 

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