It’s the end of the world: Who are you going to save? Swipe right for “a person,” swipe left for “the puppy.”
Though most people don’t log into dating apps looking for an existential crisis, such questions are playfully par for the course in Tinder’s apocalypse-themed “Swipe Night,” an experimental venture launching on the app Oct. 6 at 6 p.m.
Part TV show, part choose-your-own-adventure, “Swipe Night” is an interactive short-form series about a group of friends at a college house party: Lucy (Angela Wong Carbone), her boyfriend Graham (Jordan Christian Hearn) and nihilistic pal Molly (Shea Vaughan-Gabor). Amid the glow sticks and beer pong games, news breaks of a seismic cosmic event that threatens to destroy the Earth in three hours, causing mass panic.
Shot in first person, “Swipe Night” asks viewers to follow the trio over four five-minute episodes, helping characters navigate survival and relationship dilemmas, including: Do you stay inside, or make a run for it? And will you tell Lucy that Graham cheated on her, or keep it a secret?
However you choose to answer these and other prompts not only drives the story forward but also factors into your real-life Tinder profile. At the end of each episode, some of your responses will be displayed on your profile for other Tinder users to see, allowing you to make potential matches based on your “Swipe Night” activity.
“When you see other people who ended up at Molly’s house, that can be your connection point, like, ‘Oh, we saw the same thing,’ ” says Tinder product leader Kyle Miller. “But then a few swipes later, if you see someone who ended up in a car, you can say, ‘How did you get there?’ (The goal is) to drive conversations from those critical choices, so you can bond over having either the same experience or a different one.”
Sparking meaningful conversations is of increasing importance to Tinder, which averages about 50 million monthly users who generate more than 1 billion swipes per day. According to a survey of nearly 4,000 college students by LendEDU, more than 70% say they never meet their Tinder matches in real life, while an ABODO poll of college-age millennials found that 34% use Tinder merely for entertainment.
With a long-standing reputation as a “hookup app,” Tinder faces competition from dating apps such as Hinge and Bumble that are seemingly more relationship-focused. Unlike Tinder, both feature a variety of question prompts displayed on dating profiles, which help users get to better know potential matches before they swipe right or left.
Through “Swipe Night,” “we’re providing users with an opportunity to explore their own spontaneity and truth: With three hours left to live, would you get some food or a first-aid kit, and what does that say about you?” says series director Karena Evans, 23, whose credits include Drake’s “Nice for What” and “God’s Plan” music videos.
As a Gen Z-er who has used Tinder herself, Evans understands some skepticism that her peers will engage with a story-driven game on a dating app.
“When anything is new, there’s always that worry it might not land,” Evans says. “A project like this has a massive opportunity to impact, shift or even curate culture, being the first of its kind. It can come across cheesy, but if you do it in an authentic way – in the way we worked hard to do this season – it doesn’t come across that way.”
“Swipe Night” will be available to all users on Tinder during a six-hour window on four consecutive Sunday nights, which research has found is the most active period, Miller says.
“Tinder is always best when everyone is on it at the same time: Your messages are being replied to faster, your swipe-rights are turning into matches faster,” Miller says. “So for us, that 6-to-midnight window was like, ‘If you miss this, you’re not going to be able to experience this episode again, so you need to be here for it.’ That sharp call to action is pretty powerful.”