Choose Your Own Instruction Adventure: Giving Students Agency and Choice with Twine

Poster Description: Twine, an interactive non-linear storytelling platform, can be used in a wide variety of instructional contexts. This interactive presentation will walk you through the author’s use of Twine for a library orientation, examine the tool’s pros and cons as an instructional tool, and provide suggestions for implementation.

Poster: Click to view Canva presentation.

Presenter Name: Amber Sewell, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Presenter Bio: Amber Sewell is a Teaching & Learning Librarian at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She is interested in games and storytelling for instruction and how instructional design and creativity can create engaging and effective learning experiences. You can reach her at or on Twitter @AmberSewell13.

8 replies on “Choose Your Own Instruction Adventure: Giving Students Agency and Choice with Twine”

Great presentation!

I recently signed up for the GameRT Learn & Play session for later in the summer and now I’m really looking forward to it. 🙂 I’m also looking forward to looking more closely at Hammond’s guide

Finally, can you explain why you chose the sugarcube format over harlowe? Is it easier to customize?


Hi, Julie! Oh, excellent; I’m really looking forward to it!

I switched to SugarCube solely because I was following Adam Hammond’s guide to be able to use images. I actually built the whole game initially in Harlowe, then rebuilt it in two days from scratch in SugarCube so I could follow those instructions. He gives some reasons why he chooses SugarCube in the videos; the main one I remember is that it gives you more control over the look of your game.

Thank you for your presentation. I’d actually heard about Twine a number of years ago but didn’t have the creativity to determine how to use it for library instruction. Seeing an actual library example in action shows what could be done with Twine in an academic library making it a more viable tool for me to consider using in the future. Do you have any recommendations for librarians at a small institution just getting started with Twine in addition to the mentioned tutorials? What do you usually use for storyboarding (I cannot draw and have not enjoyed storyboarding in the past)?

Hi, Bree; I do think the flexibility of Twine as tool does create kind of too many possibilities to get started if you don’t have an example already in mind. Adam Hammond’s guide was the best starting point for me (if only I’d actually started there); other than that, I’m a big fan of just emailing others I come across who’ve used it to see if they’re willing to chat about their experience. I think just getting started and getting a feel for what Twine is capable of, how long it takes you to learn how to do things, listening to what your players say in response, is the best way to get a feel for how Twine could work for your position. You can certainly play other Twine games to see how others are using it, but it’s a mixed bag. Sometimes I walk away with ideas, sometimes I’m pretty sure from a design standpoint I’ve wasted my time, and other times I find a mechanic I really like and spend the next two hours Googling how to do it myself. The Twine Reddit community is pretty helpful; it’s got a lot of experienced designers there. But I suggest starting simple and adding skills as you go; I just learned how to add multiple conditions to a true/false statement last week and am thrilled with that discovery.

For storyboarding, I’ve literally just drawn flow charts; as someone who also isn’t great at drawing, I stick to just arrows. I use that to map out the main storyline, and can figure out where to best situate the branching options, or where I need to create duplicate content but in a new context. I think Post It notes would work well for Twine, too; having each passage be a Post It, and rearranging the content until it makes the best story could be helpful. If you click into the Google Folder on the slides, there’s a Designing Games for Learning worksheet that has a section on storyboarding/prototyping with some linked examples. I’m happy to chat more about it; I know prototyping is often where people I’ve talked to get tripped up, because they immediately think of full, movie-level storyboarding.

Hi Amber,
I really loved the design of your digital poster! I thought that your video describing its features and navigation was really helpful. Have you continued using your Twine game with students after the initial semester? Is this something that you have students work through as a part of a synchronous library instruction session, or are students encouraged to do this on their own time?

Hi, Amy! Thank you; I’m glad you found it helpful! I used the Twine game in fall 2020 and spring 2021. It was primarily distributed to faculty teaching first-year seminars both semesters, who could then assign it to their students to complete on their own time. I did do a few synchronous library sessions where students were given 15 minutes to explore the game and then we’d chat about it; those were super helpful in gathering immediate feedback from students about the game. Students were most vocal about discovering new services or resources available at the library they hadn’t been aware of before, like requesting PDF scans of articles/chapters. I accepted another job last summer, so I’m not entirely sure how it’s been used since; I do know that if you go the UTK tutorial page, a different version is available, so they have made updates to it. I’m currently working on a few different projects in Twine, although neither of them have made it to the building stage yet. It’s definitely a tool I plan on continuing to work with.

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