Twine text-based games emulate our limited agency within our daily experiences with work, lovers, friends, art, life, and as such have proven a valuable cultural form for people who, in their daily lives, must work within a limited set of choices. The text, clicks, and roundabout narratives within a Twine game illustrate the anticipation and uncertainty we feel navigating the internet, or life. You have the choice of what text to click, but no control over what comes from that click. The hypertext of Twine enriches an otherwise ordinary narrative with the innate confusion, messiness, “reality” of the player. They are what draw us in to the narrative, but also a reminder of the narrative’s bounds. Each click through a Twine game reiterates what it really means to win: accepting the limited choices at hand and moving forward, trepidations aside.
The mission to create a zine-like culture around gaming articulated by Anthropy, allowing games to be personal and lo-fi, continues to build today, two years after Anthropy’s initial proclamation. From February to April of this year, Richard Goodness curated “Fear of Twine,” an online exhibition of sixteen Twine games. The goal was not to demonstrate the platform’s ease of use, or to promote use within the LGBTQ community, but to show how diverse it could be as a gaming tool. Though Twines are primarily text-based, and often narrative, as you pick and choose your way through one, you feel compelled toward the reward of a successful narrative, the ending you want, hence they are gamified stories. Goodness senses a continuing rise in the indie gaming scene, helped by Twine. “Twine,” he says, “seems to have arrived at a point where people wanted more things from videogames, it is accessible enough for lots of people to make games, but complicated enough that people can make interesting work.” Just as the photocopied zines made your voice feel heard or the recorded-in-a-garage sound made Beat Happening sound like all your unrequited crushes, the fast and dirty creation and aesthetic of Twine games makes them a perfect outlet for our reverberating, repressed emotions, and for modeling possible freedoms and real world oppression.