#sworcery: How a game hijacked the World

I have now told this tale at least 10 times in real life. Each time it gets more interesting.

Certainly you have now heard of Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP (also known as #sworcery).

If you haven’t, just watch this video, it has pretty much blown the mind of anyone I showed it too:

Most people have just been reviewing it. Since I don’t own an iPad, I can’t really comment on the game’s play. However, I do own a twitter account and an iPhone, so I am fully equipped to discuss #sworcery’s brand of magic.

This touchtronic experience has been released for the iPad yesterday. It now holds #2 spot in the United States store.

What you might not know was this game’s journey to the top.
Accompany me as I attempt to figure it out myself.

The gaming community has long awaited #sworcery’s arrival to the iPad and iPhone (I think around October!).

That crazy video above, released two weeks ago, clearly marked this week as the release date (around the vernal equinox).

Some facts to consider:

Game Developers Conference 2011 was held almost three weeks ago, boasting a record attendee rate of 19k game developers (or, as I like to call them, magic people), journalists and enthusiasts. If you want to compare with another event, SXSW can boast a barmy 14k attendees.

GDC is the Meca for all true game enthusiasts. Without the glitz of an E3, GDC is really about the developers. Since it’s a conference its meat and potatoes are the sessions and panels by remarkable and sometimes less remarkable developers.

Three things need to be told about GDC 2011 in relation to #sworcery:

  1. It was the conference’s 25th anniversary.
  2. Eric Chahi, creator of the seminal Another World, held a post mortem of this game released in 1991, 19 years ago.
  3. Jordan Mechner, creator of Prince of Persia, held a post mortem of this game released in 1989, 21 years ago.

Any game trained eye knows the main inspirations of #sworcery are these two games, Another World and Prince of Persia. Their rotoscoped animations are still a feast to the eyes. The creators of #sworcery have already stated these two developers are credited in #sworcery’s credits, alongside Fumito Ueda, of Shadow of Colosssus and Ico fame, and the creator of modern gaming, Shigeru Myamoto.

This week, before Thursday’s #sworcery release, Eric Chahi released his GDC post mortem for free on the Internet. Also, Jordan Mechner released his post mortem for free on the Internet.

The majority of the gaming community would put two and two together and mention Superbrothers alongside these good news. The hype temperature was incredible.

This psycho social experiment had, as you can figure it out now, practically all the hype of the gaming community behind it. It looked great and seemed like a fantastic cross between the aforementioned games: Shadow of Colossus, Ico, Another World, Prince of Persia. Everyone wanted the game to succeed. My twitter feed was very active with pre-release hype. Of course, maybe some people were busy writing proper “reviews” and trying to give the game a numerical value.

I spent March 24th’s night glued to my laptop writing about Dragon Age 2, while at the same time checking out the release of #sworcery over twitter.

What do you do when you’re about to release the world’s most awaited iPad game?

You kindly ask players to tweet about it.

In game. As you progress in the game.

The game NEVER auto-tweets or forces you to tweet. Players are given a choice. Once you agree to tweet, the game sends a tweet in your name with one of the game’s pop culture poetic phrases and the #sworcery hashtag.

What do you think most people did?

What do you think happened as 24th March dawned on the World, each country’s AppStore waking up from the cold winter, ruffling its angry feathers?

The majority of the early players kindly tweeted about it. And then they’d get retweeted by @the1console, the main twitter account behind Superbrothers.

Twitter EXPLODED. I saw this live, the first night’s tweets are completely nuts, I had people in my feed suddenly talking about #sworcery and asking themselves just what had happened and that they now needed desperately to buy it and an iPad if needed.

This stinger feature, this rogue social network viral NON MANDATORY weapon was deployed around the globe in minutes.

In two hours some people were already tired of it. Some folks tried to deflate it, claiming it was already boring and that the #sworcery tag had killed itself.  Time though, would prove them wrong.

People started to interact with the phenomenon by writing non-related phrases and putting the #sworcery hashtag in the end, or mutating the hashtag into something different, most of the time with funny results.

A glee infected me and I rabidly helped them. I tweeted about it, I retweeted their tweets, I cracked jokes. If you want to see how the hashtag is behaving right now, go here: http://crowdsworcery.com/. A fan setup that site to see how things are going.

The game spread like wildfire. At a $ 4.99 pricepoint.

@adamatomic, Canabalt’s creator, tweeted @the1console 4 hours after #sworcery’s release. He had good news: it was already at #8 on the Top 10 iPad Paid apps.

8 hours after #sworcery’s release it was #3. The two first places? Apple’s GarageBand in second and, obviously, Angry Birds as #1.

At the time of writing, 6 AM in New York of March 25th, Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP sits at #2. And is featured as Game of the Week.

Do you know what comes out today internationally?

The iPad 2.

I’ll let that sink in.

Capybara Games, the socially acceptable, entrepeneurial face of #sworcery has cashed to an untold amount of money.

They are about to cash much more.

The four people responsible for #sworcery are Craig D. Adams, Jon Maur, Frankie Leung and Jim Guthrie. Congratulations to Capybara Games founders Kris Piotrowski and Nathan Vella.

Find out more about them at their official site: http://superbrothers.ca/

Please, anyone with an iPad, help Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP reach #1 in a day. There’s still time. iPad 2 purchasers, I don’t even need to instruct you to point your gizmos at the App Store and buy all Top 10 apps. That’s what you guys do already. So just be yourselves, proud new iPad 2 owners.

I still haven’t played #sworcery because I don’t have an iPad. But I have purchased the game nevertheless.

If you’ve read this far and you’re somehow wondering why is any of this story supremely important and why it will mark the future, I’ll discuss the importance of this achievement at a later date. Right now just give me some popcorn, I want these guys to reach #1.

Tap the vein of the game’s success: http://twitter.com/#search?q=%23sworcery

For completion sake, here is AppAnnie’s chart on the game’s shot up the charts yesterday:

It shot to #2 in one day, and it can still reach #1. Help it. Even if you hate iOS, mobile gaming, iPhones and iPads or console games or PC games or gaming in general.



I am Garrett Hawke

I’ve purchased Dragon Age 2 on Steam recently. I’ve realized I’m very fond of the game and decided to record my experience with the game.

I’m very grateful to BioWare for creating this game. Dragon Age 2 is the game I dreamed up when I was eleven. Only I didn’t imagine it as a game, since they weren’t as mainstream like today.

The story of the Champion of Kirkwall is every medieval fantasy story I tried to write but never finished. The funny thing is I wasn’t even intending to get Dragon Age 2.

Continue reading I am Garrett Hawke