7 cool text games with less than 300 words


The recent Twiny Jam, which challenged anyone and everyone to create their own tiny Twine text game in 300 words or less, has revealed the merit of constraint: The idea was to lower the hurdles to making games for those daunted by the idea, a category that previously included me.

I'd been saying that I wanted to make a Twine game for over six months, a process that usually involved coming up with ideas that either felt too big or too small, and executing none of them. But I'm pleased to say that the Twiny Jam worked: After nearly six months of dragging my feet, I finally made my first Twine game, a simulation of my recurring nightmare where velociraptors attack me in a library.

I certainly wasn't alone. There were nearly 250 entries in all, and while I haven't played every one, here are a few of my favorites so far:

Tiny Tarot

Tiny Tarot

1. Tiny Tarot by Chelsea Sterns, a quick three-card spread that tells your fortune—or offers you advice, depending on how you look at it.

2. Little Mermaids by Prynette, a twist on the classic fairy tale that feels a little bit like The Odyssey from the perspective of the Sirens.

3. Haiku by Flaminia Grimaldi and Vincenzo Lettera lets you write—you guessed it—your own little haiku, fold it into a paper crane, and send it down the great digital river of the internet.

4. Stars by Lysander describes itself as a short, soothing game "where you click boxes and look at stars." This is accurate.

5. The Argument by David Wolkin, a simulation of the pointless, self-destructive arguments you like to have with the people you love for reasons you don't understand.

6. The Tiniest Room by Erik108, the eensiest, weensiest escape-the-room game you've ever played.

7. Staring at a Cave Wall by Voec, a seemingly prehistoric tale of sitting in front of a crackling fire.

Remember, while it's too late for you to enter the Twiny Jam itself, you can always still make a tiny Twine on your own—or a big one, if you're ambitious—and publish it on the hosting site Philomela. Twine is available for free here, tutorials abound, and trust me—it's just as easy to learn as you've heard.