The Best Twine Games Empower the Underdog

Twine is a free and simple tool that allows users to create interactive online games that tell stories, or as some call it, "interactive fiction." Twine allows for rapid game development because it publishes directly to HTML, so the resulting games can be posted on any platform. It's also very easy to use and easy to share. You can tell any kind of story you want through your game. The stories can be made up or based on reality, completely word based or include graphics. You can make a Twine game simulating petting a cat, for god's sakes! But so far, the most powerful Twine games are the ones that give marginalized voices a place to speak and be heard.

A selection of Twine games on itch.io

A selection of Twine games on itch.io

Boing Boing recently featured a story by Soha Kareem, a Twine game developer who created Penalties, a game that focuses the discreet racism that she's witnessed and experiences as a Palestinian-Iraqi, and reProgram, a game that's about healing from post-traumatic stress disorder and sexual abuse through a BDSM relationship. Kareem states that Twine's "ease and accessibility attracts diverse creators, and many of them are writing stores about themselves -- frequently, these stories are about their personal experiences with pain and growth." Examples she provides are Jess Downs' The Day After Chemo and Nina Freeman's Mangia, about surviving an eating disorder.

Soha Kareem's reProgram

Soha Kareem's reProgram

Many Twine enthusiasts are women, members of the queer community, and ethnic minorities – or, as explained by Liz England on Gamasutra, people who don't traditionally have backgrounds in computer science or game development. Its ease of use and shareability have made it a popular tool for people within minority communities to talk about and deal with issues, like sexism or homophobia. Or, to just share their works with others who might appreciate them, as is the case with Anna Anthropy, a video game designer who's become a main figure in the Twine movement, and who's created works like Queers In Love at the End of the World.

The Message

The Message

Twine is not only open-source, but it doesn't restrict a Twine maker from selling their product once its completed. So, say for example, you've created an interactive game about what it's like to be a teenager living in suburbia in 1983? Yep, you can sell it for $4.99, or whatever price you want. 

Some people criticize the games that are being made on Twine. A Redditor asks, "Are there any *good* Twine games?" It seems like Twine is still in its early phases – what I think of as the BBS phase before the Internet happened – but like with the days of bulletin board services on dial-up modems, these are exciting times where anything and everything can happen. And with so many more voices allowed to speak in this space, that's a really cool thing.