Twine Games 101

A knot tied in a piece of brown twine.

In November 2014, the New York Times hailed Twine as “the video-game technology for all.” Twine is an open-source tool that’s pretty easy to learn: it took me about 20 minutes to make my first simple game with Twine. You don’t even have to download the software anymore – you can use Twine 2 inside your browser.

In the introduction to Videogames for Humans, a print anthology about Twine games, editor merritt kopas argues,

“Authors are doing things with Twine that aren’t possible with traditional text. And at the same time, they’re using interactive media to tell stories that mainstream videogames couldn’t dream of telling.”

Even though many Twine games rely heavily on “traditional text,” they also tend to require players to make choices by clicking hyperlinks that lead to different nodes in the game.

Some really interesting and inventive games have been made with Twine in the last few years, and this semester I’m going to be making a set of Twine games myself, in order to explore the possibilities Twine presents for rhetoricians, teachers, and scholars.

My hunch is that the values of what we might call “gamer culture” are made available for contest by the features of Twine games. Branching storylines can be used to lay out a multiplicity of possible worlds. Plots can loop backward through time, juxtaposing seemingly disconnected moments and memories. And sometimes, available choices disappear right before your eyes.

If you’ve never played a Twine game before, here are a few of my favorites that you can play right now for free:

Wondering how Twine could be put to use in your classroom? Stay tuned to the DWRL’s Pedagogy posts for tutorials and lesson plan ideas!

Featured image: “Twine: a thread composed of two or more strands twisted together.” Credit: “Rough Twine,” by David Blampied (2011). Some rights reserved.

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