You say a word and I say a word at the same time.
And then we both try to find something in between.
That’s the premise behind Say the Same Thing, a free iPhone app by Space Inch and uber creative band OK Go. You type a word. I type a word. And when we eventually match up, it feels like absolute magic.
“I think at a base level, it’s just making a connection with another person,” Andy Ross, OK Go’s guitarist and moonlighting coder tells Co.Design. “It’s similar to that feeling you have when discussing politics or sports with someone that agrees with you: there’s another person on your side. It can also be really shocking that someone else was perfectly on your wavelength.”
It’s more than shocking for two people to choose the same word out of the 171,476 words in the English language. It’s special and personal, even when it’s silly fun. When my wife and I loaded the app for the first time, in our very first round, she tossed out the word “butt.” I typed “butthole.” Not a perfect match right off the bat, but pretty darn close, especially considering that we don’t have some inside joke about butts. Butts aren’t on our minds all day (at least…not mine). But(t) in that moment, we were clearly in sync in this strangely perverse way.
Just as satisfying are the marathon games–the self-destructive versions when, rather than find obvious, logical pairings bridging the gap between two words, you just try to make the other person laugh with the most esoteric references possible. My wife and I have found ourselves 40-rounds deep, still enjoying ourselves–our references seem unmatchable, like “that one aerobics instructor” or “bieber?”–when seemingly out of nowhere, we match up.
The app itself was inspired by a real game (for a demo, watch the video above). Ross and Space Inch’s Joshua Segall actually picked up the game at a wedding, and then they began playing it with everyone. It seemed like it could make a great app, but would the fun of blurting out words on a timer translate to a turn-based text-only game?
“We were very worried about that,” Segall explains. “Once Andy had coded a basic version, we played, the band played, a few other people played and everyone thought it worked. Part of that is that winning seems to be no less exciting than it is in person.”
“I recently went to a party where I showed the app to everyone and a few minutes later we were all playing it on our phones despite being in the same room,” Ross adds later.
So it works, but why? Well the appification actually adds a new element of fun to the game. Whereas the in-person version requires instantaneous answers, on mobile, players can take their time to come up with words/jokes at their leisure. Say the Same Thing becomes less about (potentially embarrassing?) free association than well-honed razzing. Plus, the app records all of your old games for posterity. It’s like an archive of interpersonal absurdity, or in my case, a scrapbook for butt jokes.
“I hate to be overly cheesy about this, but connecting with someone is the core of communications, friendship, and love,” Segall writes. “The game sort of distills that.”