The simple, HTML-powered storybuilding tool Twine has recently become one of the main ways newcomers are exposed to interactive fiction or indie game design, and the way they make their own first game. I’ve made several Twines, and played great ones too, and stretching the capabilities of the program has given me a crash course in CSS, HTML, simple coding logic, and it’s also forced me to think about the potential of fiction in new ways. The program itself is free, easy to pick up, and doesn’t require a huge amount of disk space or processing power. As someone who’s done volunteer work off and on with museum or in-school arts education, introducing Twine to kids as a fun tool for making up stories and adventures while also sharpening their computer literacy seems like it’d be incredibly cool. The only problem? Twines in general seem to be packed with sex, drugs, violence and very naughty language.
Not that this is a bad thing! Of course not. Any medium in which a wide variety of voices can express themselves is sure to have plenty of tasteful and not-so-tasteful occurrences of such content. However, if we agree that kids learning Twine would be a really neat thing, and want to point them to inspiring examples, maybe a more consciously kid-friendly working process is needed.
That’s the mindset I hope to get some Twine creators into with this jam. It’s not meant to be an exercise in self-censorship or imitating the mawkish conservatism of 4Kids cartoons. Feel free to bring in the same tough issues you’ve dealt with in personal Twine projects before, but design with a younger audience in mind. Explore the traditional definition of child-appropriate and come up with your own. Comment or drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org if you plan on participating, and then send along a link to your finished Twine before Friday, August 29th, to be included in the results post that will hit this blog in early September. I’ll also be keeping an eye on the hashtag #TotCjam, so questions, ideas, and feedback requests can be dropped off there, or, of course, in my email.
Happy Twine-ing, and I can’t wait to see what we all come up with!