Our team was recently invited to participate in Madison’s 1st annual Spring Break Gaming and Coding Day, hosted by My Brother’s Keeper Madison. A free event open to middle and high school youth, students were invited to partake in a variety of coding and gaming-centric workshops led by local organizations Gear Learning, MadMarker Studios, Acme Nerd Games, DANEnet, and of course Filament Games. Following a brief opening presentation alongside a delicious Chik-Fil-A breakfast, students were split into groups and escorted to their first workshop of the day…
Image credit: Madison Public Library
Our session offered students a crash course in Twine, a free online tool for telling interactive, nonlinear, game-like stories (with no prior coding knowledge required!) Attendees were taught how to navigate the program’s interface, create branching Choose Your Own Adventure-like stories, and simulate random events like flipping a coin with a 50/50 chance of landing on either heads or tails. After overcoming initial writer’s block, many students seemed to really enjoy the process of not only writing their own stories, but getting to play them, too. At the end of the session, attendees were invited to save their progress in order to continue working on their stories at home.
Of course, not every participant was inclined to compose their own original story – which is why we were sure to have a handful of standout, premade Twine experiences prepared for them to play. Secret Agent Cinder, developed by Emily Ryan, was one such title – an interactive comic in which players play as an undercover operative named Cinder (inspired by Cinderella), tasked with stealing secret military plans from a royal ball. Featuring beautiful full color art, many character customization options, and a plethora of hidden and secret endings, Secret Agent Cinder is a shining example of Twine’s capabilities as a visually rich, interactive storytelling medium. It was fun watching participants become more inspired to write their own narratives after checking out a few examples of other games made using the platform.
Our staff is incredibly thankful to have been given the opportunity to participate in Madison’s 1st ever Spring Break Gaming and Coding Day, and would surely be willing to offer their services and expertise once again at next year’s event. We strongly believe in the power of community outreach and events to inspire the next generation of game creators – we hope that by introducing students to free game development resources like Twine, they will have the tools they need to explore future career options in the games, technology, or other equally valuable industries!