TwinyJam: Small Hypertext Games

A few weeks ago, IF author Porpentine created a game jam for tiny hypertext games called TwinyJam. The goal was to create a hypertext game in 300 words or less. The results were impressive; 239 games were entered into the jam.

We’ve been playing through some of the games on Scholar’s Play. In selecting games, we took suggestions from Twitter, and played through some of the curated lists that have cropped up on Boing Boing and The Chronicle of Higher Ed.

Here are a small subset of the games you should check out:

Ech.OS by Dennis Ramirez. One of my favorites. Explore a glitchy system for uploading memories and consciousness. Every detail of this short game from the writing to the modes of interaction is incredibly well-crafted. Excellent atmosphere. Uses external links to convey themes while staying in the word limit. The glitches are fantastic.

Stars by Lysander. A beautiful lyrical work about gazing at the night sky. Even in the linear passages, the placement of link anchors feels very deliberate. The soundtrack is lovely.

Haiku by Flaminia Grimaldi and Vincenzo Lettera. Players click on lines of a haiku to cycle through them until they have written a haiku they like. Interesting commentary about authorship, readership, and why we write.

The Tiniest Room by Marco Anastasio. A small escape-the-room that feels incredibly well-fleshed out for 300 words and manages not to feel terse.

Singular by Gritfish. An entire RPG in one-word commands and descriptions. I’m very impressed by how much content is here! Relies on existing RPG knowledge, but the way it condenses events to a single word is incisive and funny.

Staring at a Cave Wall by Voec. Really love this one. Excellent piece in conversation with Plato’s famous allegory. Link placement is very deliberate and the writing is rich and though-provoking. The pictures are a lovely touch.

Tiny Tarot by Chelsea Sterns. Some writers used procedural generation to make the world feel full within the word limit. This is a procedurally generated tarot reading in a small 3-card spread. Clever idea, and the pixel art is fantastic.

Mysterious New File Formats by Porpentine. Another generated work that matches fictional file extensions to their fictional file types—an interesting take on identity and technology. Pretty simple, but some of the types are clever, and I loved some of the weird things my brain came up with in trying to make sense of meaningless acronyms.

Little Mermaids by Prynette. A dark take on mermaids/sirens. Extremely powerful writing that says a lot in a very few words. Uses familiar tropes to great effect to make the world feel fleshed-out.

A History of Shore Regions by Porpentine. An amusing commentary on writing of a certain type. The satirical tone and use of stretch text here meld perfectly.

Growth by Liz England. A horror game with an unexpected twist. Does a nice job of using a lack of agency as a way to explore the narrative. The typeface is perfect and the visuals are great. Also check out her other submission Itch.

Elsewhere by Stacey Mason. [a shameless self-plug]. My own game about scarcity and water rations. I’m sure I’ll do a post on this at some point. I reused words and cycled phrases here and there to change the meaning on different playthroughs while staying in the word limit.

The range of works created is great for showcasing the expressive range of links. Each one takes between 5 and 15 mins to play. Great for classes and workshops, and the 300 word limit is great for narrative design assignments.