Platform as a Service: A Roundtable Discussion of Community Labor and Platformization of Twine and Ink

Abstract (in English): 

While both can produce choice-based interactive fiction works playable via a web browser, the hypertext authoring tool Twine and the narrative scripting language Ink are, at first glance, two very different platforms. Twine takes text input in the form of passages and transforms it into HTML. Ink, as a scripting language, uses applications like Inky to create JSON files representing a compiled Ink project capable of more easily being used with game engines like Godot and Unity. The communities for each, however, approach these processes in the same ways: they create guides, make tutorials, and build resources to help other users understand how each tool moves content from input to output. They provide, in a word, service. It is this labor supporting the connections between users across these platforms, and it is the members of these communities maintaining its resources and reinforcing the platformization of each.

This roundtable examines two different primary documents related to these platforms, the community labor histories behind them, and their current iterations. The first, the Twine Cookbook, was born out of a collection of resources and has become, over three years, the go-to source of Twine knowledge. During its lifetime, it has slowly absorbed content spread across other services such as the Twine wiki, forum, and details found in development posts. The second document, the Unofficial Ink Cookbook, is a more recent creation that was born out of the combined experiences of two instructors. It has slowly grown into an expansive document now quoted and used as a reference document by students learning Ink and as part of the Ink Discord to help new users understand concepts within the scripting language Ink.

As editors and contributors to these documents, the members of this roundtable will speak to the ways in which community labor, service, is the conduit through which knowledge is shared, rules are enforced, and the sense of a “platform” emerges through the pedagogical resources created by the communities around Twine and Ink. Given the variety of platforms and tools available for creating interactive fiction, the members of this roundtable will review common problems, discuss possible solutions, and examine how a “platform” cannot exist without its community supplying the labor to sustain it.

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Milosz Waskiewicz