My name is Andi, and I’m a hashtag game addict.
For those who don’t know, hashtag games are a real-time events on Twitter in which someone posts a hashtag and players vie for likes and retweets by creating funny and/or clever tweets that match the hashtag.
For example, one game I played this week had #UnhealthySongs as its hashtag, so my Tweets included “Live and Let Diabetes,” “It’s Raining Meningitis,” “My Sweet Lard,” and my personal favorite, “Purple Vein.” (Anytime I can work Prince into a game I give myself bonus points).
I was hooked the second my phone sounded that first bloop letting me know someone had responded to one of my tweets. Before I knew it I was racking my brain and scrolling through my iTunes library and IMDB to find songs and movie titles or band names that fit the hashtag of the moment.
I wanted those retweets and laughing face emoji replies. If at first I didn’t succeed, I was determined to try and try again until my phone exploded from all the notifications. The world was going to know how funny and clever I am, by Jove.
The approval of anonymous strangers on the internet suddenly became pretty important, luckily only for brief periods of time. Since that initial rush, I’ve settled down a bit, although I have to admit, I still get a little thrill whenever one of my tweets strikes a chord.
Although they’re called hashtag games, there really isn’t a prize at the end, other than bragging rights and picking up a few followers here and there.
Actually, I don’t think there’s really even a finish line. As far as I can tell, the games just eventually peter out as players lose interest or move on to something else.
One night last fall, I won one of the most coveted imaginary trophies in hashtaggery: one of my tweets was selected as “@midnight’s” tweet of the day.
Since some of you probably have no idea what I’m talking about, I’ll explain. “@midnight” is a show on Comedy Central, essentially an internet-centered game show for professional comedians.
Throughout the half hour, Chris Hardwick, the host, throws questions out to the contestants about the day’s online lunacy and the comedians respond with rapid-fire jokes.
The Hashtag War segment has become a staple of the show, allowing for audience participation. After the comedians have spent a few minutes cracking jokes, the hashtag goes live on Twitter and viewers join in, hoping to be crowned the winner. The show’s staff selects its favorite tweet of the day and the author’s prize is to have his or her tweet shown on television the following night.
On this particular night last October, the hashtag was #BreakfastCelebs and my winning entry was “Nelly Frittata.”
To tell the truth, I was never a big fan of “I’m Like a Bird,” Nelly Furtado’s hit song from 2000. It’s one of those irritating earworms that slithers into your brain and takes up residence for hours at a time. But for roughly 24 hours I was queen of the nerds and I’ll always love Nelly Furtado a little bit for that. For the first time in a long time, I felt cool.
I’m a huge nerd. This isn’t news to anyone who knows me and probably wouldn’t come as a shock to random passersby. More specifically, I’m a word nerd who is helpless to resist a good pun. If I’m being really honest, I can’t even resist a horrible pun.
The worse it is, the more I love it. So when I first found hashtag games, it felt like I had finally found my calling. Not only did I find a venue to exercise my nerd muscles and competitive spirit simultaneously, I quickly realized that there are thousands of people across the world who share my appreciation of wordplay.
Some games happen on a predetermined schedule, while others just seem to pop up out of nowhere. Odds are, there’s a least a few games going on right now if you’re looking to kill some time in the doctor’s office waiting room or while you’re waiting until it’s time to rinse the dye out of your hair.
If you’re considering trying your hand at a game, be warned, the hashtags aren’t always in good taste, but if you’re up for a dirty joke once in a while, I recommend giving it a try. Who knows? There might be a nerd crown out there with your name on it.
Andrea Agardy can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @swimswithsnark.