Ok, this probably requires a bit of backstory. A few years ago, Portland got covered in these flyers asking people to call in and report their dreams. Calling the number would drop you into a voicemail. We never really found out who was running it or why, and, although a lot of internet conspiracy kiddies tried to make a big deal out of this, I highly suspect this is because there was no deeper story to uncover. Someone was bored, the end.

Anyway, for one of the 2022 summer slow jams, I wanted to experiment with making a game played exclusively on the touchtone phone, by interacting with a phone tree. So obviously I made my own dream survey, running on Twilio. And while their phone tree builder is really slick and full-featured, let me tell you, this was an off-label use. I do not think I want to build something with that many loops ever again without version control.

Do I recommend going this route for designing a game? Generally no. It'll cost you real money, for one thing. (Not a LOT of money, I think it costs me like 50 cents for someone to play all the way through.) And you'll have to, like, claim a real phone number, which comes with some legal ramifications--check your local laws and regulations before you make a game that sends automated text messages, for example. But for special cases and one-off experiences? Then absolutely YES.

What surprised me about this project is how much play it got from older folks (and by "older" here I mean "old enough to remember landlines"), folks who aren't normally enthusiastic about my weird games or about video games in general. I'm guessing they found a spooky phone tree more familiar/accessible, so were more willing to engage with it.

The number's still live, go ahead and call it! I don't mind spending the fifty cents ;)