Porpentine (game designer)

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Porpentine Charity Heartscape
Porpentine portrait.png
OccupationVideo game designer, artist
Years active2012–present

Porpentine Charity Heartscape is a video game designer, new media artist, writer and curator based in Oakland, California.[1] She is primarily a developer of hypertext games and interactive fiction mainly built using Twine.[2] She has been awarded a Creative Capital grant, a Rhizome.org commission, the Prix Net Art, and a Sundance Institute's New Frontier Story Lab Fellowship.[3][4][5][6] Her work was included in the 2017 Whitney Biennial.[7] She was an editor for freeindiegam.es, a curated collection of free, independently produced games.[8] She was a columnist for online PC gaming magazine Rock, Paper, Shotgun.[9]

Game design[edit]

Porpentine's 2012 Twine game Howling Dogs incorporates themes of escapism, violence and religious experience, though she has stated that it should be open to interpretation.[10] She created Howling Dogs shortly after she started hormone-replacement therapy in 2012, in only seven days, while staying in a friend's remodeled barn.[11] It won the 2012 XYZZY awards in the "Best story" and "Best writing" categories.[12] The Boston Phoenix listed it as one of their "Top 5 indie games of 2012".[13]

During the 2013 Game Developers Conference, game designer Richard Hofmeier used the booth he had been given to showcase his own award-winning game Cart Life, to showcase Porpentine's Howling Dogs instead. Hofmeier spray-painted the words "Howling Dogs" across the banner of his own booth, and showed Porpentine's game instead of his own. Hofmeier stated he wished to give greater exposure to Porpentine's game.[14][15]

In 2015 she released Eczema Angel Orifice, a compilation of over 20 hypertext works from 2012 to 2015. The compilation includes critically acclaimed games such as With Those We Love Alive, a queer fable about isolation, abuse, and the relationship between art and power;[16] and Ultra Business Tycoon III, a sprawling textual world disguised as edutainment software.[17]

In 2016, Rhizome commissioned Porpentine along with Neotenomie and Sloane through the series First Look: New Art Online resulting in Psycho Nymph Exile.[1] This work includes an online hypertext work, a booklet, and stickers. The project depicts the experience of PTSD as a visceral physical substance, not an invisible, abstract force.[18]

Selected works[edit]

  • Howling Dogs (2012)[10][11][12][13]
  • Their Angelical Understanding (2013)[19]
  • Ultra Business Tycoon III (2013)[17]
  • With Those We Love Alive (2014)[16]
  • Everything You Swallow Will One Day Come Up Like A Stone (2014)[20]
  • Neon Haze (2015)[21]
  • Aria End (2015)[22]
  • Psycho Nymph Exile (2016)[1][18]
  • No World Dreamers: Sticky Zeitgeist (2017)[23]
  • "The Decision So Many People Were Forced To Make Throughout History", Whose Future is It? (2018)[24] (short story)



  • XYZZY Best Writing for Howling Dogs[19]
  • "Golden Banana of Discord" for Howling Dogs at the 2012 Interactive Fiction Competition, a prize awarded for the highest standard deviation "both the most loved and the most hated."



  • XYZZY Best Writing and Best Individual NPC for With Those We Love Alive[27]
  • Wordplay Festival Award for Most Unique World: With Those We Love Alive[28]




  1. ^ a b c Kazimarki, Donna (November 22, 2016), "Porpentine Charity Heartscape's New Novella is Science-Fiction About Living with Trauma, and Slime Sex", East Bay Express
  2. ^ Ellison, Cara (April 3, 2013). "Hypersexed Hypertext: Porpentine and the Twine text game revolution". PCGamer. Retrieved May 15, 2013.
  3. ^ "Creative Capital – Investing in Artists who Shape the Future". creative-capital.org. Retrieved March 14, 2017.
  4. ^ "Announcing Rhizome's Fall 2015 Program". Rhizome. Retrieved March 14, 2017.
  5. ^ "Rhizome Names Three Winners of Third Prix Net Art Award | ARTnews". www.artnews.com. February 16, 2017. Retrieved March 14, 2017.
  6. ^ "Sundance Institute's New Frontier Story Lab Explores the Future with Six Creative Teams and Projects". www.sundance.org. Retrieved March 14, 2017.
  7. ^ "Whitney Biennial 2017". Whitney Museum of American Art. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  8. ^ Ellison, Cara (April 10, 2013). "Anna Anthropy and the Twine Revolution". London: The Guardian. Retrieved May 15, 2013.
  9. ^ "Live Free, Play Hard #1". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved May 15, 2013.
  10. ^ a b Short, Emily (November 23, 2012). "Interview with Porpentine, author of Howling Dogs". Retrieved May 15, 2013.
  11. ^ a b Hudson, Laura (November 19, 2014). "Twine, the video-game technology for all". The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved November 23, 2014.
  12. ^ a b "XYZZY Award Winners". Archived from the original on March 24, 2010. Retrieved May 15, 2013.
  13. ^ a b Meyers, Maddy. "Outside the box: PC indie games of 2012". Boston Phoenix. Retrieved May 15, 2013.
  14. ^ Alexander, Leigh. "IGF winner Hofmeier pays it forward for Porpentine's Howling Dogs". Gamasutra. Retrieved May 15, 2013.
  15. ^ Conditt, Jessica. "IGF grand prize winner gives his booth away to 'Howling Dogs'". Joystiq. Retrieved May 15, 2013.
  16. ^ a b Rougeau, Michael (December 4, 2014), "Making "With Those We Love Alive," a Game That Leaves its Mark on You", Animal, retrieved December 18, 2014
  17. ^ a b Alexander, Leigh. "The poignant vocabulary of Porpentine's Ultra Business Tycoon III". www.gamasutra.com. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
  19. ^ a b c "The XYZZY Awards".
  20. ^ "Storycade: Twine "Everything you swallow will one day come up like a stone"". April 18, 2014. Retrieved March 14, 2017.
  21. ^ "Play Neon Haze – sub-Q Magazine". sub-Q Magazine. August 11, 2015. Retrieved March 14, 2017.
  22. ^ a b "Creative Capital – Investing in Artists who Shape the Future". creative-capital.org. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
  23. ^ Muncy, Julie (September 13, 2017). "Porpentine's new Twine game isn't just a Twine game". Wired.
  24. ^ "Porpentine Charity Heartscape" in Cellarius Stories, Volume 1. Cellarius, Ed., New York: 2018, ISBN 978-1-949688-02-3.
  25. ^ Goldberg, Harold (October 7, 2013). "IndieCade Games Festival Celebrates Winners". ArtsBeat New York Times.
  26. ^ Indie Essentials: 25 Must-Play Video Games, Museum of the Moving Image, accessed 2014-11-02.
  27. ^ "2014 Awards results | The XYZZY Awards". xyzzyawards.org. Retrieved January 5, 2016.
  28. ^ "Hand Eye Society | WordPlay 2014 Photos and Awards". handeyesociety.com. November 9, 2014. Retrieved January 6, 2016.
  29. ^ "WINNERS OF THE THIRD ANNUAL PRIX NET ART: Eva and Franco Mattes, Porpentine Charity Heartscape, Bogosi Sekhukhuni". Prix Net Art. Archived from the original on March 15, 2017. Retrieved March 14, 2017.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]