WHAT IS TWINE?
Twine is an open-source engine for the creation of interactive, non-linear stories and text-based games. As no knowledge of coding or scripting is require, it has a low barrier of entry which makes it very accessible and extremely easy to use, I even gave it a go and created a game this week.
Games are created by writing passages and creating links between. You can add in more complexity by using the basic coding and variables like “if” statements. As a lot of the interactivity is created through the hyperlinks, thought should go into how these can be used. Many creators have started using them in interesting, unexpected ways.
In this blog post I will explore a whole bunch of different Twine games and examine the choices that the designers have made.
Depression Quest, by Zoe Quinn, was the first Twine game that I ever played (long before I even knew what Twine was). It is a game about living with depression and the impact it has on the person’s life. The game is written in second-person and discusses things like the main character’s job and hobbies very vaguely. Similarly, the main character is never gendered. Audio and images have also been used to create different spaces and settings. This elements all work together to facilitate role-playing, which in turn, allows the player to feel their decisions even more.
What makes Depression Quest really interesting is that at the bottom of each page there are three bars which show the character’s current “stats”. This allows the player to see how the character is feeling and has responded to their decisions. Similarly, as the character sinks further into depression, their options on what action to take becomes limited: the unavailable option is still readable but is crossed out. This is a really interesting way of demonstrating how depression impacts and limits the lives of those dealing with it.
QUEERS IN LOVE AT THE END OF THE WORLD
Queers in Love at the End of the World is a 10 second game by Anna Anthropy about spending your last moments alive with the one you love.
The game’s 10 second timer causes the player to go through the narrative several times. The race against the clock creates an anxiety and rush that mimics that within the story. As such, when you first reach an ending within time there is an overwhelming sense of calmness and relief. This, again, nicely mirrors the narrative. Additionally, the writing is succinct and heartfelt. There is so much love in this story.
WITH THOSE WE LOVE ALIVE
With Those We Love Alive is a dark tale by Porpetine. It covers may topics like moving on, taking control and what we are willing to put up with and ignore within society. It is written in prose that is ethereal, disturbing and beautiful. The language, spaced-out music and bright colours transport you into a new and disturbing world where violence and dead people fill every available space.
Twine offers something that passive mediums films and books cannot: interactivity. This interactivity combined with a non-linear narrative written in (typically) second-person, allows the reader to fully engage and take part within the story. They have agency within the narrative which can help them become more invested and, in turn, more affected by the story.
Because the Twine engine is open source and extremely accessible it allows anyone to create games, tell stories and improve their design skills. This opens up the industry to a whole lot of people that, previously, may not have had a platform to stand on. Not only is this really cool but it also diversifies the industry and allows a wider ranger of voices and stories to be heard.
Anthropy, A. (2015). Queers in Love at the End of the World [Video Game]. Retrieved from
Porpentine. (NA). With Those We Love Alive [Video Game]. Retrieved from
Quinn, Z. (2012). Depression Quest [Video Game]. Retrieved from