Skip to main content

Challenge your friends to come up with the perfect response GIF with this new iMessage game

gifs against friends tenor zynga imessage texting people
Image used with permission by copyright holder
If modern messaging services and social media have taught us one thing, it’s that there is a GIF for every occasion. Zynga seems to think so too, as the longtime mobile developer has based its latest game on that very premise.

It’s called GIFs Against Friends and it works similarly to party games like Cards Against Humanity and Quiplash — with the added hilarity of looping animations. One player selects a prompt or writes their own, and then others anonymously respond with GIFs. The judge selects whichever they deem the best, and then you’re on to the next round.

Zynga was one of the first developers to embrace the iMessage App Store introduced alongside iOS 10 last fall with a new version of Words Against Friends. Since then, the company has released a collection of minigames as well, but GIFs Against Friends looks uniquely well suited for the emerging platform.

“We had been working on the iMessage platform for a few months,” Mark Kantor, general manager at Zynga, told Digital Trends, “and we were thinking about ‘what are the things that people are already doing within messaging?'”

The company noted enthusiasm surrounding GIFs, and set out to build a game that utilized them while also being “inherently social.” The result? Up to 32 friends can join the battle for GIF supremacy in a single iMessage group chat. Unsurprisingly, that can create some pretty hectic exchanges.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

“Often times, people in high school and college specifically have really big groups within iMessage,” Kantor said. “[The game] often leads to really funny conversations and obviously if there’s 10, 20, or 30 people in that conversation, then I think things can get pretty exciting.”

To allow GIFs Against Humanity to work as intended, however, Zynga needed to make sure the app was serving up the perfect GIFs in response to players’ search terms. Enter Tenor, a company that specializes in GIF curation and supplies its know-how and insights to various clients, from Facebook to Google, Kik, and Apple. For GIFs Against Humanity, the partnership made perfect sense.

“We’ve tried using a number of different [GIF search] services,” Kantor said. “[Tenor] somehow managed to get the emotions, and hit the nail right on the head.”

Tenor attributes the power of its solution to an understanding of how emotions relate to content in the context of messaging, particularly over mobile devices. To Tenor’s co-founder and CEO, David McIntosh, GIFs are merely another language of communication — albeit one that we usually only encounter when we’re texting a friend or sharing a post.

“Traditionally we’ve been hyper-focused on mobile messaging,” McIntosh said. “This is a really interesting partnership for us because it extends that visual language that we’re building to more of a gaming use case.”

While the iMessage App Store has stumbled a little out the gate — due to what many pundits, developers, and users alike have called a confusing interface that makes it difficult to find the software you’re looking for — Kantor believes there is massive potential for apps that manage to enhance the group chat experience.

“I think that the games that are gonna end up being the best within a messenger, they will probably be different games than the ones that stand alone in the App Store,” Kantor said. “The games that we’re seeing most success are the ones that really fit into the conversation. People don’t necessarily want to spend a minute to have the game load, and then spend ten minutes on a turn. They want something that’s going to be really snappy and not pull them away from the conversation, but actually make the conversation better.”

GIFs Against Friends is available now for free on the iMessage App Store.

Editors' Recommendations

Adam Ismail
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Adam’s obsession with tech began at a young age, with a Sega Dreamcast – and he’s been hooked ever since. Previously…
I love Apple, but it’s totally wrong about iMessage and RCS
An iPhone 15 Pro showing the main iMessage screen.

I’ve been using an iPhone ever since 2008, starting with the original and then every generation since. For several years, the iPhone was only capable of SMS texting, with MMS support arriving with iOS 3 in 2009.

But in 2011, Apple created something new: iMessage. It first arrived on iOS and then went to the Mac in 2012 to replace iChat. iMessage is basically an instant messaging service that is exclusive to all Apple products: iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac. You can send text, images and video, documents, rich preview links, stickers, and more between one another. You can also see if a message is delivered, send read receipts (if you want), and everything is encrypted. With iOS 16, you can even edit and unsend messages within a certain time frame.

Read more
Netflix games may be coming to TVs soon, as revealed by new iOS app
Selecting a game in Netflix Games.

It looks like Netflix might be expanding its gaming offerings to TVs soon, as a Netflix Game Controller is now on the iOS App Store. Netflix has yet to announce or comment on the purpose of the app, but a message shown when the app boots up confirms that it's coming.
Netflix has slowly made its way into the gaming industry over the past couple of years, acquiring studios and adding a dedicated game section to its mobile app that lets players download premium mobile games. The library includes some great games like Poinpy and Before Your Eyes, but has yet to break into the mainstream, likely due to its somewhat obscure availability. This new app, which was preemptively listed on Apple's storefront by Netflix and lines up with leaks from earlier this year, indicates that Netflix Games are coming to the TV.
The description for the app states that "this Game Controller app pairs with your TV and allows you to play games on Netflix using your phone or mobile device." After downloading and booting up the app, Digital Trends discovered two more messages asking players to "choose a game on your TV and follow the directions to connect" and that "Netflix Games on TV are in beta. Some devices may not be supported at this time."
All of this points to an impending beta rollout for games on Netflix's TV apps, which has not been announced yet. As such, we don't have any idea about which televisions or games the iOS app or Netflix Games on TV will support just yet. Regardless, this looks like a massive evolution for Netflix's gaming efforts, especially as it gears up to release a cloud gaming service.
Netflix declined to comment on the program when asked by Digital Trends, but it did refer us to previous statements it made about its intentions to break into cloud and TV game streaming.

Read more
iMessage was down today, but it’s now back to normal
Apple Messages opened on iPhone 13 Pro Max

Apple's iMessage — one of the biggest reasons to use an iPhone — was having some trouble today.

Apple's official System Status website confirmed that an iMessage issue began at 11:50 a.m. ET. The issue was listed as "ongoing" for multiple hours, with Apple noting that "users may be unable to send or download attachments in iMessage."

Read more