Playful Lenses: Using Twine to Facilitate Open Social Scholarship through Game-based Inquiry, Research, and Scholarly Communication


  • Rebecca Wilson Independent Scholar
  • Jon Saklofske Acadia University
  • The INKE Research team University of Victoria



Twine, digital games, research, communication, open social scholarship, digital humanities


In academic contexts, digital games are often studied as texts or are used as pedagogical tools to teach basic concepts in early education situations. Less usefully, their systems and economies are often co-opted and decontextualized in short-sighted attempts to “gamify” various aspects of learning or training. However, given that games are highly controlled, conditional, choice-and-consequence-based, problem-solving environments in which players are expected to interact with simulated settings and elements after agreeing to take on particular roles and subject positions, there are promising potential uses of these experiences in academic contexts that have not been fully considered. Motivated by the imperative to explore alternative modes and methods of scholarly research and communication, and guided by the values of open social scholarship practices, this paper reconsiders games not as things to study, but as instruments to study with. Given that games can function as simulations, models, arguments and creative collaboratories, game-based inquiry can be used as a potential method of post-secondary and post-graduate humanities research and scholarly communication. While these ideas have been explored in a preliminary way in relation to a number of different academic disciplines (Donchin 1995; Boot 2015; Mitgutsch and Weise 2011; Westecott 2011) this paper is meant to catalyse a humanities-calibrated consideration of the pragmatics and potentials of game-based research, games as instances of critical making and scholarly communication, and more complex forms of game-based learning than those currently practiced. A number of examples that make use of the open source Twine platform will be featured.


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Author Biography

Jon Saklofske, Acadia University

Dr. Jon Saklofske is a Professor in the department of English and Theatre at Acadia University and a co-lead for INKE’s Modelling and Prototyping group. His specialization in the writing of the British Romantic period and continuing interest in the ways that William Blake’s composite art illuminates the relationship between words and images on the printed page has inspired current research into alternative platforms for networked open social scholarship as well as larger correlations between media forms and cultural perceptions.


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How to Cite

Wilson, Rebecca, Jon Saklofske, and The INKE Research team. 2019. “Playful Lenses: Using Twine to Facilitate Open Social Scholarship through Game-Based Inquiry, Research, and Scholarly Communication”. KULA: Knowledge Creation, Dissemination, and Preservation Studies 3 (1):5.

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