Quinn had created graphically oriented games before, including the satirical Ghost Hunter Hunters. But she decided to make Depression Quest through an increasingly popular program called Twine. Although it’s possible to add images and music to Twine games, they’re essentially nothing but words and hyperlinks; imagine a digital “Choose Your Own Adventure” book, with a dash of retro text adventures like Zork. A free program that you can learn in one sitting, Twine also allows you to instantly publish your game so that anyone with a web browser can access it. The egalitarian ease of Twine has made it particularly popular among people who have never written a line of code — people who might not even consider themselves video-game fans, let alone developers. Chris Klimas, the web developer who created Twine as an open-source tool in 2009, points out that games made on it “provide experiences that graphical games would struggle to portray, in the same way books can offer vastly different experiences than movies do. It’s easy to tell a personal story with words.” Twine games look and feel profoundly different from other games, not just because they’re made with different tools but also because they’re made by different people — including people who don’t have any calcified notions about what video games are supposed to be or how they’re supposed to work. While roughly 75 percent of developers at traditional video-game companies are male, many of the most prominent Twine developers are women, making games whose purpose is to explore personal perspectives and issues of identity, sexuality and trauma that mainstream games rarely touch on.

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