On the 3rd of November the workshop dedicated to Twine – an open source tool for non-linear storytelling – took place at Malmö City Library. It was fantastic to see such a mixed crowd of participants showing up to the workshop! Among them were professional game developers, poets, programmers, students and even two young boys (accompanied by their guardian).
For inspiration we started out talking about text adventures and other newer forms of text-based games such as Depression Quest by Zoë Quinn, 80 Days by Inkle and the experimental text-based game Device 6 by Malmö developer Simogo. They have proven that even today text-based games can be successful. Twine is a free program that lets you start doing your own text-based game or interactive story.
After introducing Twine and going through its functions the participants were given time to start making something on their own. Their first task was to think about the structure of their story. Should it have many endings? What choices would the reader/player get? Would all choices have consequences? When you work with non-linear storytelling you have to decide not just the content of the story, but also how it should be experienced. This is of course a challenge, but also a great deal of fun.
We ended the workshop with everyone presenting their Twine-story to the others. It was great to see what people had produced in such a short amount of time. We were especially impressed by the two young boys who had produced an interactive story with a surprising amount of drastic humor and action. Read it here!
Talking about story and games
The evening the same day as the Twine workshop we invited the public to come and join us for a talk about how to write for games focusing on personal or difficult stories. In the panel we had Alex Camilleri and Ozma’s own game designer and writer Bobbi A. Sand (unfortunately film-maker Hanna Sköld had to cancel due to illness). Before the discussion started both Alex and Bobbi gave a short presentation of their work.
Alex talked about his latest game Memoir En Code, which is what he calls an autobiographical game album. In the game Alex tells the story of his own life and in making it he did everything he could to make it as personal as possible. He went as far as to add personal details into the code (which as a player you will never see). Everything in game he has made himself from the graphics, to the coding, the story and the music. Releasing the game was one of the hardest things he had ever done, and as his life took a dramatic turn just after the release, he decided to add this event to the game and release it a second time.
Bobbi talked about writing for The Silent Town, a game that deals with social heritage, discrimination and unconventional love. Outside of Ozma Bobbi is also a writer with several books behind her about breaking norms and dealing with identity, sexuality and creativity.
During the discussion in which Bobbi and Alex answered questions from the audience the topic of how games as a medium is suitable or not for personal or deeper stories came up. Games such as That Dragon, Cancer and Dys4ia were mentioned as interesting examples. Both Bobbi and Alex agreed that more national funding is needed to support these types of games being made.