TWINE for creative writing

Twine app screenshotTwine is an excellent tool for developing approaches to creative writing, storytelling and narrative enquiry. It has been used by both Humanities students to better understand story structure and the effect of agency, and Medical School students to explore storytelling as a method of learning.

Twine is based on the ‘choose your own adventure’ concept and offers a simple and intuitive graphical user interface powered by HTML code. A user does not need to know HTML to get started. It is free to use and offers both a browser-based version and a downloadable desktop app.

Twine works as a series of connected passages. Each passage (story chapter) can present multiple choices and outcomes, either looping back to the start or progressing the story. Something the Creative Writing students experimented with is the concept of agency: a reader/participant in the story can great or little affect on their journey and circumstances. One Twine-based game which experiments with this idea is Porpentine’s ‘Howling Dogs’.

As mentioned above, the app used basic HTML to create the interactive element. This works as simply as surrounding each story option with double square brackets. This automatically creates the story branches which can then be edited.

Once a story has been created it can also easily be dowloaded as an HTML file, to be shared and played in another web browser, or saved and imported back into Twine for further editing. The Creative Writing students shared their Twine files to our VLE for each other to play.

You can download below a set of slides used for our session, which covers getting started and downloading the HTML file:

Twine instructions

Another example of how Twine can be used as an interactive learning tool is the first-person game ‘Depression Quest,’ which aims to simulate some of the choices and scenarios someone living with this particular mental health issue may face in their daily life. This example was presented to Medical Education students as a way storytelling and personal experience can be used for clinical learning.

The students were then encouraged to examine their past experiences (either clinical or non-clinical) and each present a story with multiple outcomes which could be used to pass on medical knowledge to the player. A nice example involved a game of poker with opponents serving you vodka. Do you also eat the bread and butter? Well, fatty foods slow down the metabolic process and, therefore, also slow the absorption of alcohol, so eating the bread would give you a clearer head for longer!

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