Games Studies and the Future of ACP

Greg Call summer intern Joy Won on new titles and directions underway at the Press

With Google Forms to Zoom meetings becoming staples in our lives, the importance of open-access and free digital resources has come to the forefront. It is interesting to see the role of digital technologies and resources during this time when new forms of scholarship and resources are coming to the forefront of pedagogy and access.

Lever Press, our partnered press that is supported by over 50 liberal arts institutions, has seen a 300% increase in usage of their books after universities went remote according to the director of ACP and Lever, Beth Bouloukos. As astounding as this statistic is, it simply speaks to just how important open-access resources are and will continue to be, especially in the immediate future as many schools and universities prepare for long-term remote learning.

Even during this time of disaster, Lever Press and Amherst College Press are still working at full-speed to produce more ground-breaking works of scholarship. One of the titles currently in production I am most excited about is Twining: Critical and Creative Approaches to Hypertext Narratives by Anastasia Salter and Stuart Moulthrop. Professor Salter is an Associate Professor of Games and Interactive Media at the University of Central Florida, and has most recently facilitated the Electronic Literature Organization(ELO) and ACM Hypertext conferences. Both conferences are held in-person every year at the University of Central Florida, and have also chosen to go virtual. Moulthrop is a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and his research interests include electronic literature, cybertext theory, game culture and digital media. Professor Moulthrop was one of the panelists at ELO and gave an informative talk titled “The Hypertext Years?” which was then recorded and uploaded for those who could not attend the conference and can be accessed here.

In discussing their book, Moulthrop described not only how both he and Salter were introduced to Twine, but why they were passionate about writing a book about a platform they both love and advocate for. “Above all though we have begun to use Twine in our own teaching and creative work and decided early on not just to write a history or critical study, but a practical exploration. That is why we use a gerund in our title, signaling both that Twine is an unfolding phenomenon, an active practice, and that engagement with this platform requires creative action” (Moulthrop 39:53).

Twining is slated to be published in the spring of 2021 and hopes to capture this “unfolding phenomenon”, in the words of Moulthrop, through “the book’s chapters alternate careful, stepwise discussion of adaptable Twine projects, offer commentary on exemplary Twine works, and discuss Twine’s technological and cultural background. Beyond telling the story of Twine and how to make Twine stories, Twining reflects on the ongoing process of making.” I personally am really excited for the release of Twining as I am part of the niche community who knows about Twine.

Many people may be unfamiliar with Twine, an open-source platform that allows users to tell stories through interactive and new technologies. I was first introduced to the platform this past spring semester through the course “Books and their Afterlives: Writing as/is Technology” taught by visiting professor Amanda Henrichs. I fell in love with Twine as it combined many of my interests, and I could easily envision the endless possibilities that the digital storytelling platform offered. As an undeclared English major, still dabbling her toes in computer science and continuing to be involved in STEM initiatives on campus, Twine fascinated me. With the ability to easily create stories and interactive narrative games through Twine, creators are able to start from the very basics of storytelling with a simple page by page storyline, to leading their readers through elaborate mazes with clues and hints and suspense woven through the game. Twine is redefining what it means to not only a storyteller, but also a game creator, author, and artist, and is accessible for all to use.

Much like Twine, Amherst College Press is a newer initiative focused on creating, and above all, accessibility. Accessibility is a core value and goal of both the ACP and Lever Press, and we hope to continue our work for many years to come as we work to redefine the publishing world. Whether you give making your own narrative on Twine a go, or wait in anticipation for Twining to be published as I am, I hope that you are well during this time and continue to support Amherst College Press and Lever Press on any platform you desire as we look to the future of open-access scholarly publishing.

Joy Won ('23) is a rising sophomore at Amherst College majoring in English with an interest in educational and health equity. As the Greg Call Summer Intern she dived into the world of open-access and hopes to learn more throughout her career at Amherst. In her spare time she plays with her kitten who has listened in on many of Joy’s Amherst classes during the last few months.