Untangling Twine: A Platform Study


As mainstream games require increasingly larger technical teams and more complex software, there has been a move in the opposite direction: that is, the development of game-making tools that “are being designed with people who aren't professional coders in mind.” While Twine is not the only platform designed to facilitate the creation of interactive stories, it has evolved into the primary hotbed for games exploring personal experiences, especially those dealing with issues like marginalization, queerness, and discrimination. This paper examines Twine from a platform studies perspective to understand how it supports and facilitates more experimental works. The platform's development history, documentation, UI, method of content generation, and distribution model combine to create a tool that facilitates these kinds of works. Twine’s reference materials (oriented not toward code and problem solving, but to affirmation of the individual experience as the basis of a game), user interface (analogous to common brainstorming/writing techniques), orientation toward vignette (with the genre's subversive potential) and open distribution model (free to download, free to share, and exported as HTML) make the platform a uniquely-accessible tool for creating highly personal games. Analyzing Twine in this way allows game researchers to understand the importance of Twine’s design to the creation of such works, in turn illustrating factors that platform developers may use to guide future software.

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