Twine

Website review by
Polly Conway, Common Sense Media
Twine Website Poster Image
Interactive story-creation tool is fun but complicated

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Educational Value

Twine is a combo platter of storytelling strategy mixed with beginning coding skills, and patient, dedicated kids can create their own interactive stories. The way Twine is designed also makes it a good tool for storyboarding and organizing information. The best thing about Twine is that it gives students the chance to put coding skills to use and create a concrete, useable product. Depending on their skill level, they can create very simple stories or more complex masterpieces. Although Twine can be challenging to use, its unique format gives kids a rare opportunity to use both sides of their brains at once.

Positive Messages

Twine's interface gives kids the freedom to be creative and learn coding at the same time. They'll feel totally empowered by the process.

Violence
Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that, although Twine is very cool, it also can be very complicated. The new and updated version of Twine makes some progress with this, simplifying and streamlining the process to make designing games easier. However, that also means that a lot of the resource materials available are no longer valid since they apply to the first version of Twine. Younger children will likely continue to find Twine frustrating, but older kids will enjoy exploring coding and storytelling. Parents should also be aware that the content on Twine is not monitored, so if kids get interested in interactive fiction, they could be exposed to stories involving sexual content, violence, and inappropriate language. 

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What's it about?

TWINE is a program that you can either download or use online to structure a story using text and code. In a confusing twist,  It provides a visual interface, where you can see a map of your story and easily visualize connections among passages. Twine can be used for storyboarding, organizing a novel or a story, or creating a choose-your-own-adventure tale. Once you finish a story, you can publish it online for other readers to experience the interactive journey. You can also read stories others have created through Twine's site. 

Is it any good?

Twine has a lot of potential to introduce kids to the idea of coding and encourage them to write creatively. It's not difficult to figure out how to get started, and the intuitive interface allows you to quickly and easily add steps to your story. However, there aren't a lot of instructions provided, and while Twine has recently made some great upgrades to the site, that means that a lot of the tutorials you'll find contain out of date information. You have the option of either downloading Twine or working online, but since there isn't a way to sign in, your work is saved in your browser. This means that multiple users can get confusing, multiple browsers can be problematic, and if you delete your browser data, you also lose all your saved work. That said, there is an archive button that allows you to backup your work to a save file on your computer. It seems like all of this would be a lot easier with a simple login and cloud storage, however, 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Find a classic Choose Your Own Adventure book and share it with your kid. Why is it fun to make choices that affect the outcome of a story?

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  • Take the structure of a well-known fairy tale and, as a family, turn it into a Twine-style story with a few alternate options. What would happen if Snow White didn't bite the apple? What if Cinderella made it home on time?

  • Discuss how computers work and the complexity behind seemingly simple websites and games. How is coding its own language, and how can knowing that language help you?

  • Examine some of the existing stories on Twine and discuss whether they seem appropriate for your family. Kids and parents can talk about what makes a website or story inappropriate and how they should react if something begins to make them feel uncomfortable online.

Website details

For kids who love writing

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