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March 20, 2008

colorwar 2008

Color Wars 2008 is an internet-wide game in which players from a number of self created teams compete for prizes and medals.

The idea:

We used to play color wars at summer camp. Near the end of the year the entire camp would split up into colors, red, green, black, blue, etc... and compete in a series of events: tug of war, egg toss, basketball - sort of like the movie Meatballs, except all within the same camp.

During the summer we were divided into discreet units, older kids here, younger kids there, Hiawathans by the lake Tawasenthans by the ropes course, etc... But when it came time for color wars you had no idea who would be on your team. It was a release, and it was viciously fun.

For a while I had been thinking about how a color war might look online. How would you play tug of war, or other group games that were silly, time limited, and awesome... and more importantly how could you create teams within an already functioning environment to have that same people-mash-up effect that we did at camp.

Twitter seemed perfect. So shortly after signing up I posted this tweet, this tweet, and this tweet.

There are hundreds of teams, some of which are hundreds of players deep, and the self organizing properties of twitter hasd provided a perfect implicit structure that can be used to start setting up the colorwar events. Beyond this, it is an idiom that can be used to create rapid affiliation and action models in the future, and create opportunities for ambient identity and events that are not bound to the "place based" metaphor of the web.

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Comments (72)

Ze, you're the master of the meme!

Posted by: Thomas at March 20, 2008 10:53 AM

can't wait - need to get my coworkers in on this so that we can all become distracted together.

Posted by: presley at March 20, 2008 10:54 AM

everyone wants to "belong", everyone wants to be accepted by something larger than them. everyone wants to feel fresh and clean with a new title or affiliation over their head. its warm and fuzzy. it feels good. democrat and republicans. black and white. young and old. nobody likes to be left out or in between.

thats why i support team switzerland.

Posted by: drew olanoff at March 20, 2008 10:55 AM

Hopefully the wonderful tool developers will find something fun to do with alpha-channel transparency... (though it'd be hard to justify that effort in terms of 'rapid affiliation and action models :)

Posted by: @seethruteam at March 20, 2008 10:55 AM

I had no idea what I signed up for when i joined BlackWatchTeam... I still don't.... but there I am!

Just going along for the ride.

Any source of inspiration and creativity is a good source.

Posted by: Scott Lawrence at March 20, 2008 10:58 AM

Good funk, ze, can't wait

How about a 'tug-of-war' online? Not sure how it would work, but 'twould be good fun to translate the old games online

Posted by: Aaman at March 20, 2008 10:58 AM

Thanks for shaking it up in twitter-land ZE. It needed a good shake-up.

Posted by: Jim Kukral at March 20, 2008 10:59 AM

let the wars begin! go @orangeteam!!

Posted by: ben rasmusen at March 20, 2008 10:59 AM

And of course there's a comic about it already ;) http://www.purpleasphalt.com/2008/03/20/dev-null-vol-3-summer-camp/

Posted by: David at March 20, 2008 11:02 AM

Watching the flurry of activity yesterday was really really interesting.
I saw in it, that it (twitter, and maybe everything else?) is a lens for who we really are.
You (Ze) are making a new reality / story like you did on the show.
I (and others) had to build a framework.. to codify and extend
Gary (and *many* others) used it as a team building / marketing exercise....

Thanks for turning on the light Ze, I like scurrying.

Posted by: Erik Kastner at March 20, 2008 11:02 AM

Bre and I were talking one night after an NYCResistor meeting , and told me about his ideas on leadership through play. His Photogamer project is a great example of that, and I'm really excited to see how colorwar turns out. If nothing else, I love the opportunity to join up with people from other "parts of camp" so to speak and do something fun.

links for the interested (if they work?)

Posted by: Eric Skiff at March 20, 2008 11:02 AM

I had no idea what a colorwar was until reading your explanation just now.

What prompted me to jump right in yesterday was past experience with the org, etc. The concepts you spark up have always been creative, inclusive, social and fun.

Besides, it's about time someone came up with a new use for twitter. This may be the first time it's been used on a wide scale for any kind of game.

( @macrossactual , Blackwatch Team )

Posted by: Macross Actual at March 20, 2008 11:02 AM

I had no idea what a colorwar was until reading your explanation just now.

What prompted me to jump right in yesterday was past experience with the org, etc. The concepts you spark up have always been creative, inclusive, social and fun.

Besides, it's about time someone came up with a new use for twitter. This may be the first time it's been used on a wide scale for any kind of game.

( @macrossactual , Blackwatch Team )

Posted by: Macross Actual at March 20, 2008 11:03 AM

@VeryGreenTeam is ready!

Posted by: Robby Russell at March 20, 2008 11:03 AM

why not set up games a la fabuloso friday via your wiki or another? if not for the first game... for the second...


Posted by: Sean at March 20, 2008 11:04 AM

Excellent example of using a tool like twitter to assemble some kind of order (forming teams/groups) out of the ever-expanding chaotic mess known as the twittersphere (a.k.a the devil's playground, i.e. Jason Calacanis).

I propose we use Ice-T's song "Colors" as our theme. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KP0OaUOQGCg

Posted by: paisano at March 20, 2008 11:06 AM

Capture the flag?

Posted by: Robert P. at March 20, 2008 11:10 AM

woooohooo colorwar 2008!!

Posted by: Richard Savage at March 20, 2008 11:11 AM

This American Life did an episode about camp, and the last part is about Color Days, which sounds very similar to color wars.


eric ( Green Team ) rochow

Posted by: eric : Gardenfork.tv at March 20, 2008 11:14 AM

"And beyond this, it is an idiom that can be used to create rapid affiliation and action models in the future."

BINGO. paradigmatic idioms ftw! ...and @orangeteam.

Posted by: Geoff at March 20, 2008 11:15 AM

Oh, that is what that was about. I am not familiar with colors wars or summer camp and still have a difficultly dealing with Twitter. If it's anything like playgrounding though, observation at a distance is interesting in itself.

I recall in old chat rooms that people would go off to agreed upon web pages and play in different spots. An informal pre-digg type influx of viewers often surprised a few lonely pages without warning. That had a wide range of reactions from a web not fully comfortable with itself.

I am curious to see what happens here and what the events are like and how people react to them.

Posted by: boo at March 20, 2008 11:19 AM

TeamClear for the winnnnnnnnnnnnn

Posted by: Beatrice M at March 20, 2008 11:24 AM

I've been so confused, but I'm excited and ready to play.

Posted by: Ben at March 20, 2008 11:27 AM

I really dig when services are repurposed by it's users to create bigger and better and more useful things. For example, while Twitter is a "What are you doing right now?" service people using it to notify people of emergencies or breaking news is pretty cool. On the contrary, when a service is repurposed in a non-useful way or in a way that throws the noise:signal ratio out of wack such as using Twitter as a chatroom or as an aggregator of posts on other services and blogs, it can get pretty annoying.

Right now, I'm not very optimistic about this! (I use Twitter to be notified of what my friends are doing right now.)

Posted by: Aaron at March 20, 2008 11:28 AM

There is one who will save peace of the color wars!

- Ready to form Voltron!
- Form feet and legs!
- Form arms and body!
- I’ll form the head!


Posted by: Voltron - Defender of the Twitterverse at March 20, 2008 11:34 AM

I joined in on the colour war (VeryGreen Team) b/c it looked like fun - thx for starting it up!


Posted by: Melany at March 20, 2008 11:38 AM

I expect nothing less than a highly organized, world-wide game of assassin during the final round.

Posted by: edbury at March 20, 2008 11:38 AM

ze - thanks oodles for organizing this. i hope the world is prepared for the massive amounts of pwnage that is about to be inflicted by @stripesteam.

Posted by: bliss at March 20, 2008 11:48 AM

Oooooooooh. Capture the flag could be fun.

Posted by: Megan64 at March 20, 2008 11:51 AM

@teamargyle is ready, and hopes at some point this might maybe result in an in-person golf scramble. not that we golf. but we love golfcarts. and knickers.

Posted by: rachel ann yes at March 20, 2008 11:53 AM

You are a coder?

Posted by: Leslie Bocskor at March 20, 2008 11:55 AM

Haha, great idea Ze! I'm now a happy member of @verygreenteam! -- lookin' forward to the games ahead.

Posted by: Hamish M at March 20, 2008 11:56 AM

I'm really excited about how fast this came together in a big way! Like you said, "it is an idiom that can be used to create rapid affiliation and action models in the future."

Posted by: moncrey at March 20, 2008 12:00 PM

Ze, you twitter for 5 minutes and take over! You go dude. I'm clear... :-)

Posted by: mad at March 20, 2008 12:07 PM

That's so funny. We used to play color war at my camp in Maine too. Good times...

Well done!


Posted by: Alex Rainert at March 20, 2008 12:08 PM

How about a Digg tug of war? Each team selects an article they are responsible for digging, teams can bury other teams articles. Team who has the most amount of diggs wins.

Posted by: Rambis Youth at March 20, 2008 12:13 PM

@greenredteam is doing some serious noise in Portugal. Até os comemos !

Posted by: Armando Alves at March 20, 2008 12:20 PM

This is going to be fun.

Posted by: jeremy at March 20, 2008 1:01 PM

Let's have a war! We can start it in New Jersey.

Posted by: ganyard at March 20, 2008 1:41 PM

Totally awesome.

What's great about this is the idea that the definition of a game is being defined & decided in real time amongst an audience that's making it up collectively.

I think you're right about Twitter. By stripping down all the bullshit associated with communicating on line and just letting people talk in short bursts to people they know (minus all location-based limits) something new and interesting is happening.

Posted by: Gavin at March 20, 2008 1:48 PM

I hate to break it to you,
I mean ...
it's a nice effort and all but .... it's all futile.




Posted by: Steffest at March 20, 2008 1:54 PM

@Paisano either that or Matthew Ebel's song "Every Color" off his new album "Goodbye Planet Earth" http://matthewebel.com

Posted by: Daniel Johnson, Jr. at March 20, 2008 2:14 PM

I jumped in because in my experience projects you start are fun. And after a crazy busy few weeks, I was ready for fun.

Now I'm fascinated watching the way it's evolving, including the inevitable backlash.

Go Yellow Team!

Posted by: Annie at March 20, 2008 2:17 PM

Very cool. I have no idea how this will work, but looking forward to it.

I'm new to twitter and I've been wondering what in the world it could be used for...

Posted by: Jeff Namnum at March 20, 2008 2:19 PM

Aw, I want to be part of this but don't understand it. How do I find out what teams there are? How do I join one?

Posted by: Pentadact at March 20, 2008 3:17 PM

Ze. Holy crap. You're a Twitter n00b and you're already tearing the place up! I'll give you 2 weeks to get into the top 10 most-followed users on Twitter.

Posted by: Brian at March 20, 2008 3:25 PM

I'm on the blueteam, my husband joined the verygreenteam. Chaos is about to ensue.

Posted by: Tierney at March 20, 2008 3:39 PM

Go for pink! :)

Posted by: kcu at March 20, 2008 3:56 PM

We all like to have fun and get our minds off the craziness of life. That's what Twitter is all about. That's why we're the color of Twitter. The @aquateam.

:-) @ShanZan , AquaTeam

Posted by: Shanna Z. at March 20, 2008 3:59 PM

While your futile attempt to battle in visible light, @GammaRayTeam will own the entire electromagnetic spectrum! Muhahahahaha

Posted by: tagami at March 20, 2008 4:17 PM

PLEASE please PLEASE stop this color war shit! its ruining twitter!

Posted by: no_more at March 20, 2008 4:20 PM

OK, now I'm starting to feel like I'm missing out on something by not using twitter, but I still don't get it. Can someone explain it to me? Is it at all useful if you don't get text messages sent to you phone? I'm going to miss the color war because I can't adjust to new technology! I'm getting old!

Posted by: Gus at March 20, 2008 4:26 PM

Will the British and Canadians have to have their own colourwar ? or just those who care about spelling ?

(Go VeryGreenTeam btw)

Posted by: [mRg] at March 20, 2008 5:01 PM

PussyPinkteam ftw!

ColorWars2008 begins...

Posted by: Mattie at March 20, 2008 5:46 PM

ah ha! so you're the mastermind behind this organized madness. way to rally the troops!

Posted by: Mostly Lisa at March 20, 2008 6:10 PM

Once, about 20 The Shows before the end of The Show, I sent in a video of my stuffed turtle, a dashboard turtle, introducing the show, and I didn't get on.

That's why I'm part of the verygreenteam.

Posted by: Chris Brogan... at March 20, 2008 9:06 PM

i'm quite confused about it all.

Posted by: mai-ling at March 20, 2008 10:51 PM

oh, you are a frickin genius! i awoke to this madness and i knew i had to join a team~had no idea why~but i had to join one!
now is the time and the time is now!
go @teamcoffee!

Posted by: moto62 at March 20, 2008 10:57 PM

Just thought I'd let you and eveyone else know about the Pantone 292 Team.

Posted by: hubs at March 20, 2008 11:09 PM

@veryblackteam is currently an Army of One...or, well, an Army of 000000!!

(Alas, @blackteam is being squatted on lo these last 8 months...)

Posted by: doublejack at March 21, 2008 1:28 AM

@veryblackteam is currently an Army of One...or, well, an Army of 000000!!

(Alas, @blackteam is being squatted on lo these last 8 months...)

Posted by: doublejack at March 21, 2008 1:32 AM

Free your mind and get in the Flow with the AquaTeam at http://tinyurl.com/2coqwf

Posted by: Wabi Sabi Me at March 21, 2008 2:22 AM

Can't wait to see how this unfolds.

Posted by: Doug at March 21, 2008 1:44 PM

I would just like to announce the organization of magentateam. http://twitter.com/magentateam

we would be offering to be leader of a CMYK battalion, but someone appears to be squatting on cyanteam. keyteam? are you out there?

Posted by: sarah gilbert at March 21, 2008 6:02 PM

would the online version of Red Rover be a mashup of using BlogRovr to clothesline all @redteam members?

Posted by: grace at March 22, 2008 4:34 AM

I've always wondered how one would play "Marco Polo" on the internet.

Posted by: Tom Limoncelli at March 22, 2008 2:27 PM

I feel dumb... how do you join teams???

Posted by: duve at March 22, 2008 5:23 PM

Favorite color war game: Circle Rush

Roughly equivalent to a group Sumo match.

How Played: All reds and blues are together inside a circle that is spray painted on the grass.

The whistle blows and the fun begins. If you are pushed outside the circle, you lose.

The last player standing wins the event for their color.

P.S. However your color is assigned, it is your color for life. Color is tied to gender. E.g., boys are either reds or blues. Girls are either greens or whites. Therefore, for Internet color war purposes, perhaps there should be a "color server" tied to IP address. Enter your gender and a color is assigned based on an odd-even system.

P.P.S. If you build it I will display it on GamerWorks.com or GamingWork.com

Posted by: Rick at March 26, 2008 1:25 PM

@ Tom LImoncelli -- in my case, you work for Ralph Lauren. For real. Weirds me out too.

@ Hosea -- watching happily from the sidelines, another fairly masterful move

Posted by: marko bon at March 28, 2008 4:20 PM

Concerning Thursday Bingo Challenge:

This is damn annoying. How is this suppose to be a "team" game when the game and run time unfairly favours North America and penalises Europe and Asian team members. Not everyone can be up in the middle of the night to play for one hour. Clearly Colour Wars designers fail to grasp the concept that the USA is NOT the frack'n world and should have planned regional / continental divisions or a more automated method of play that could run over a 24 hour time period in order to accommodate a far wider global audience.

Posted by: SirWumpus at April 1, 2008 4:39 PM

I like fun (I really do) and breaks from work, but this whole concept is just bizarre. I probably could've blissfully ignored it if I didn't get tons of spam that people had joined Teampuce (guess I was on an alias email).

Someday, at a social media conference, I'm bound to hear how this was a great idea and a step forward, but right now I'm a naysayer.

Gotta run and waste time some other way, but good luck with the camp re-enactment.

Posted by: Adam Zand at April 1, 2008 5:34 PM

Well how do we at www.jafreak.net get on this team we are in jamaica?

Posted by: Jafreak at September 4, 2008 10:07 PM

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