"Swipe Night is Fun, but Useless” An Analysis of Tinder’s Swipe Night, an Interactive Foray in Online Dating

Abstract (in English): 

Electronic literature and computer games share a common history beginning from the earliest adventure games (Rettberg 87). As both the “technological platforms” that host electronic literature and games, and the “social contexts” that inform them evolve, so does the content, gameplay, and types of interactions they facilitate (Rettberg). The development of the Tinder platform and other mediated dating applications has precipitated the incorporation of interactive fiction games into the dating experience.

The conception of dating as a game is by no means a new phenomenon. The “pickup” model of dating considers interactions between potential sexual partners to be governed by a set of rules that participants can learn in order to “win”(Almog and Kaplan). While such practices existed long before digitally mediated dating sites, applications like Tinder extend the gamification of dating; the Tinder platform further gamified these experiences with the release of the electronic literature game, Swipe Night, which debuted in October 2019. Swipe Night, in the model of hypertextual fiction, allowed users to play through a narrative, making choices that impacted the resulting storyline.

Swipe Night was intended to connect users in new matches based on their choices as they navigate through the Swipe Night story, a deviation from Tinder’s usual matching via geographic proximity alone. The game played out over four weeks, with each week continuing the story from the week before. The in-app interactive narrative was largely successful, with over a million people tuning in each week (Perez). The Swipe Night trailer began making its rounds on tinder and other social media apps in late September 2019. In the 45 second trailer, users were introduced to the concept of the narrative: “Every Sunday, experience an interactive adventure where your choices can lead to matches. But you only have till midnight until the adventure is over” (Timmermans and De Caluwé).

While the Tinder application has, since its inception, facilitated the gamification of dating through its fast-paced, turn-based interactions, the debut of the hypertextual fiction Swipe Night further underscored the game-like interactions of the platform. However, Swipe Night also enabled community development based around common choices within the narrative, and fostered discussion among Tinder users on a variety of platforms. While users’ Tinder data is ephemeral and not publicly available, cross platform conversations offer insight into user perceptions and experiences navigating the Tinder platform, and Swipe Night in particular. This study examines user reactions to the Swipe Night event on the subreddit r/Tinder; some users praised the unique matches they were able to form through interaction with the electronic narrative, while others lamented the effectiveness of the fiction for facilitating the development of actual relationships. As the formation of both communities and romantic relationships increasingly occurs via digitally mediated communication, a study of Tinder’s Swipe Night event provides essential insight into both the gamification of human interaction and audience reception of these developing interactive fiction technologies.

(Source: Authors' own abstract)

A tinder profile with Swipe Night results. The result reads: "Ending: Molly's House"
A tinder profile with Swipe Night results.
Heatmap of the sentiment analysis for this data set.

Critical writing referenced:


ELO 2021: Ethics of Digital Environments, 27 May 2021

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Lene Tøftestuen