one reason I like playing twine games…

After Playing Reset by Lydia Neon I realized how much I fucking love playing well-crafted twine games.

Playing twine games requires skill….really…it does.

Good twine not only engages me as literature, but as a unique medium which requires a unique palette of skills to be enjoyed thoroughly. It rewards a kind of reading that I’ve never employed elsewhere.

In the twine world I am alert. I am feeling in the dark for corners and walls and passageways with my hands.

This is not something I do slowly. If I move too slowly, I falter; I cease to feel the forward motion of the game.

I scan to see if I’ve been in a passage-place before, knowing that if I do not read carefully enough, I will miss entire branches of the story, or as is the case with Reset, or howling dogs, or other games with beautiful tucked-away endings, I could miss beating the game. I emphasize “enough” because that “enough” differentiates twine reading from other kinds of reading. When the enough is reached and the certainty bell dings, I can move on. That doesn’t mean, necessarily, that I’ve read every familiar word again or as carefully as I did the first time I saw it.

This scanning feels great because it invokes a place in my mind that is deeper than working memory. I feel like I’ve gained “expertise” of a kind in a particular game. When I visit a passage that is familiar but sneakily different from previous passages I sense both the unique and the familiar as quickly as, well, as I’ve said elsewhere, as a skilled guitar player tunes a guitar–without faltering, without second-guessing. I just feel the node map grow and come together in my mind unto a point of deeply satisfactory completion.

My eyes jump to the newness and my cursor darts to fresh links.

However, this scanning process is pleasurable in all twine games, be they linear or elaborately branched.

Scanning is an aesthetic experience. How fast does it take me to feel out the structure of the game? What level of care on my part is required to assess whether I’ve been to a passage before? Can I anticipate whether a link will take me to a new place or to a familiar one?

My games, and many good twine games, (Marras’ mom is home, and swampmaiden’s Spending Money come to mind) are more deliberately linear and/or quick to feel out. And that is part of their character. They feel open. Transparent. Spacious.

So I would encourage you to play more than one twine game (preferably more than two) to get a sense of what I mean. This pleasure compounds with the number of great games you play.