Each Sunday night in October, dating app Tinder is running its first interactive event, a video series that prompts users to make choices in the last hours of their lives, as an apocalyptic event threatens to destroy the entire world.
The adventure, told within the app from a first-person perspective, begins at the door to a house party, where your friends have gathered to watch a unique astronomical event, the close passage of Linklater’s Comet. Using the familiar “swipe,” users are presented with choices and have seven seconds to make a decision. Options range from questions of taste (picking what music to play) to moral decisions (Do you tell your friend that her boyfriend is cheating on her?) to questions of survival.
Of course, the comet ends up on a collision course with the Earth. As panic ensues across the globe, the tension rises, and decisions become more fraught. Do you save a person or a dog? Hitch a ride or steal the car? The story is also told through text messages from “friends” and emergency alerts that enhance the immersion of the experience, which was created by 72andSunny.
The first episode, which premieres Oct. 6 at 6:00 p.m., runs six minutes, and ends with just three hours left before impact. Each of the following three episodes runs five minutes, and reduces the time left until Armageddon by an hour.
The creative team considered several possibilities before crafting an end-of-the-world scenario, like a trip to Mars or going back in time. “We landed on the apocalypse idea because we’ve seen people use it as a jumping-off point on dates already,” says Jenny Campbell, chief marketing officer at Tinder. “What would you do if you had one hour to live?”
Those choices help users find new matches. After each episode, people who played will be presented with the profiles of people who made the same or similar decisions. “We wanted the choices you make to say something about you,” Campbell says.
In keeping with the ephemeral nature of the Tinder experience, users can only play each episode and find matches once, and each episode is only available between 6:00 p.m. and midnight each Sunday night. “You only get one chance to be spontaneous in life,” says Matt Murphy, executive creative director and partner at 72andSunny. “There are no do-overs.”
Sunday night is prime Tinder-using time, of course, as people prep for the coming week by scrolling through potential matches. Half of the app’s users are now between the ages of 18 and 25, so the can’t-miss event is meant to invoke potential FOMO. “If this is the water cooler conversation on Monday morning, we’ve done our job,” Murphy says.
Though users ultimately experience a little more than 20 minutes of content, the multiple avenues for the storyline required more than two hours of footage, directed by Karena Evans, best known for her work with Drake.
Snapchat also released a Swipe Night lens—the first that lets users swipe to change the look, complete with the split-screen effect that indicates choices in the game. A Swipe Night filter also went live timed with the first episode.