Frame Game

Frame Game

In the Spring of 2019, I was looking for a way to promote one of our time-limited merchandise sales for Accidental Tech Podcast. As part of these sales, we receive promo codes from our vendor for hitting certain milestones. Each promo code is good for a free t-shirt (including free shipping). I decided to give away these promo codes to fans on Twitter.

I wanted to do it in a fun way, perhaps with an Apple-themed trivia contest. Sadly, most trivia succumbs immediately to the power of a web search engine. I needed something that wasn’t so easy to Google. My first attempt was to post some hand-drawn line art, then ask people to identify it. Since I’d just created the drawing, I knew it wouldn’t be in any search results. And the crude nature of the art meant that a Google image search wouldn’t turn up any matching photos.

It worked (I think), but I couldn’t come up with anything to draw after that. Instead, I posted a small portion of a larger image which I asked people to identify. Again, success. The image I’d chosen happened to be a frame from a TV show, and that gave me an idea.

From that point on, I’d post a small portion of a frame and then ask people to identify the movie or TV show from which it was extracted. I created a notes document to keep track of everything, and I titled it “Frame Game.”

Since then, I’ve posted almost sixty frames over three years, including a few excursions into audio. People seem to enjoy it. Movies and TV shows are great, and who doesn’t like free stuff?

What I enjoy the most about Frame Game is the process of carefully selecting the frame and the crop such that people who are very familiar with the piece of media will be able to guess the answer, while people who are not will be absolutely dumbfounded that anyone was able to figure it out at all, let alone so quickly. The best example of this was when I posted a tiny, 64-pixel square from a 1920 x 800 frame that was guessed in one minute and four seconds.

Have some people figured out how to use computers or web searches to brute-force this game? Almost certainly. But it makes me happier to believe that most people are playing it legitimately. I’d like to humbly suggest that playing for real will make the players happier too.

Frame Game has taken place entirely on Twitter, and it’s meant to be played in real time. Unfortunately, the way I’ve chosen to chain the tweets does not make it particularly easy to follow in the Twitter archives. In an effort to better preserve the historical record, I’ve created my own archive, linked below.

Frame Game History Viewer

There is no score-keeping, but you can “play” the game by attempting to guess the answer before clicking to reveal the full frame. If you cheat now, you’re only cheating yourself! Some frames also have hints that show ever-larger portions of the frame. (Hold down the Option key when clicking the button to reveal the full frame immediately without seeing any hints.)

I’ve had to resort to posting hints a few times during Frame Game, but the history viewer contains all the hint frames that I had prepared, regardless of whether or not they were needed. I’ve also linked to the original tweet, the declaration of the winner, and the winning tweet itself, if available. (Some winning tweets have since been deleted.) The time elapsed since the question was posted is also shown.

If you like this kind of thing and want to play something similar every day, check out the recently released, Wordle-inspired framed.wtf.

There is no schedule for Frame Game, other than usually coinciding with one of ATP’s seasonal merchandise sales. I’m not even sure if it helps increase sales at all. It’s just something fun that I like to do for the handful of fans who like to participate. If you want to play, follow me on Twitter and watch for a tweet that begins with the magic phrase, “The first person to identify…”

Frame Game can start at any time, so be vigilant!