“Horse Master” and The Power of Twine

When we mentioned Twine in class this past week, it sounded a bit boring or uniform to me; after all, how different could individual stories be if they always followed the same text-based format?

The obvious answer to this question, after exploring various Twine works such as “My Father’s Long, Long Legs,” “Hana Feels,” and “Horse Master,” is that Twine stories can indeed be¬†very different from each other. Each of the different works we had to explore for Monday’s class had an impact on me, but “Horse Master” in particular is one that I’m sure will stay with me for a long time to come. The game’s strange use of language and pet simulator-type gameplay eventually morphs into a strange perversion of a horse show, which is equal parts exciting¬† (because this is what the entire act of raising your horse leads up to) and horrifying (due to its gruesome events). I went into this game knowing no background about it, which I’m glad for; I didn’t know what to expect, and this made the experience even more memorable and powerful.

The game’s title screen features an innocent pixelated image of a cowboy riding his horse in a desert, which, after a playthrough of the game, seems to be either an entirely unrelated concept or a sly way to twist the player’s expectations before beginning the game.

The simple pixel art image that appears on the game’s title page. (Click image for source)

After playing through these works, I’ve certainly changed my mind about Twine; it’s a simple, but incredibly powerful tool that utilizes the game creator’s imagination and use of language to build characters, stories, and even entire worlds. The program only requires text, and this is precisely what makes it so fascinating. There’s no need for graphics or fancy CSS coding, just the author’s story and the reader’s imagination, and they can be as interactive as a video game or as passive as reading a novel. The fact that Twine has no boundaries, demands no coding experience, and allows for anyone to create a work are three factors that prove its universal appeal, and it has even inspired me to (perhaps someday) create a Twine work myself.

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