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Celebration of Learning Spotlight: Martin C.K. Shade: An Interactive Twine Narrative

Posted by on Wednesday, June 10, 2020 in Commentary.

On February 13, 2020, the Center for Teaching held a Celebration of Learning, an exhibition of students as producers. The event featured students from all over campus sharing what they learned, created, designed, and discovered.

Martin C.K. Shade is an interactive narrative (IF) Dylan Kistler built in the free program known as Twine. It seeks to blend narratorial and procedural rhetoric to develop empathy for a cantankerous protagonist residing in an assisted living home. Known spaces within the narrative are blocked to convey Martin’s physical limitations and dependence on Trisha, his caretaker. The story includes allusions to inspirations including the IF Firewatch and the novel Pale Fire.

Besides developing expertise in Twine, this project challenged Dylan to balance his writing instinct (to include only essential elements in narrative) and his desire as a game designer to give player’s agency. He learned to balance narrative priorities with modular scenes crucial to replayability. Furthermore, he combined his knowledge of pacing in games and novels to strive for an experience mirroring the lifestyle of assisted living while maintaining an engaging experience.

Dylan added, “This project was a marriage of my two most dear crafts: creative writing and game design.”

He completed the beginnings of the project while visiting his grandmother’s assisted living home. Lastly, this project was his self-driven advocacy on behalf of humans with limited agency.

Dylan pointed out, “There are so many untold stories and undesigned games about long-term inmates, for example, yet many focusing on the few who break out of prison.”


Student: Dylan Kistler                                                                                                  Faculty: Mark Wollaeger                                                                                Course: Special Topics in English and American Literature – Games and Literature

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