Digital Distractions: Tweeting as a Bird and the Awkwardness of AIM

'Leon," a game played through Twitter (GIF via Twitter)
‘Leon,” a game played through Twitter (GIF via Twitter)

In a monthly series called Digital Distractions, we’re highlighting a few games, apps, and interactive digital experiences recommended for the art crowd. For November, journey through Twitter as a rotund bird on a mission, relive the awkward AIM conversations of the early 2000s, and give a monster a makeover.


For: Twitter
From: Leon Chang

Created by pixel artist Leon ChangLeon is a clever Twitter-based game where you click through various dummy accounts on a choose-your-own-adventure mission. Each handle has just one Tweet with a GIF and a choice (or three) of how you want to progress. Death comes quickly and often to your “heroic bird, fat and round” who finds a sword in its apartment and must make such vital choices as taking the subway with its intimidatingly cool Turtle Teens or riding a bike to the office, where a showdown awaits. A bit of advice: don’t disregard petting the cat as a good use of your digital time. You can start playing in the embedded Tweet above, good luck!

Emily Is Away

Scene from 'Emily Is Away' (GIF by the author via YouTube)
Scene from ‘Emily Is Away’ (GIF by the author via YouTube)

For: Mac, PC, Linux
From: Kyle Seeley

It’s 2002 and you’re talking to a girl named Emily on AOL Instant Messenger about whether or not Coldplay is horrible. Familiar door opening noises make you check your friend list to see who just got online, and before you send your response about attending the party tonight, you can change your text color to a cool red over black. Emily Is Away by Kyle Seeley perfectly recreates the AIM experience down to the Windows XP backdrop with its serene green hill, with five years of interactions between you and Emily (or emerly35) playing out over chat. Will you win her away from that jerk Brad with your carefully choreographed responses, or just wallow with a broken heart that can only be expressed by the Snow Patrol lyrics of an away message?

Monstre De Coiffure

'Monstre de Coiffure' (GIF by the author)
‘Monstre de Coiffure’ (GIF by the author)

For: Browser
From: Lonebot

Monsters with vertical mouths, sharp teeth, and sometimes multiple heads parade through the door of your skull-adorned beauty salon in Monstre De Coiffure by Lonebot. Each one wants a makeover to appear like the human mannequin at your station, although the blobs of blush and eyelashes strenuously curled can only get so close. The browser-based game was developed for the Ludum Dare “You Are the Monster” game jam, and has a bit of a subversive edge to the silliness as commenting on our standards of beauty. These monsters can rock a blonde wig on their conical heads while purple lipstick ripples on their hideous smiles with more character than the dull human models alongside. As the tagline for the game says: “Show the world monsters can be beautiful too.”


'Helios: Yume' (GIF by the author)
‘Helios: Yume’ (GIF by the author)

For: Browser
From: Helios

For the new Yume album from Helios (aka Keith Kenniff), the mix of electronica noise with live instrumentation was sampled for an online interactive by WhiteVinyl (aka Luke Twyman). In an abstract landscape you can move floating shapes to alter the bass, guitar, and staticky beats, rising to a peak with pixels flying like snow or floating to the sky where light notes add an ethereal texture to the soundscape. By letting you experiment with the individual elements of the music, it both supports the album and stands as a digital experience on its own.

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