V&A’s first game jam, which took place on 23-24 November 2013.
The challenge was to create a game around the theme of “Hidden Stories” using content, themes and inspiration from V&A’s Medieval and Renaissance Galleries. Six objects were chosen to give participants an idea of what there is in the galleries and for inspiration: the Luck of Edenhall, Reliquary of St Sebastian, Zeus-Sabazios, The panel of the Last Judgement / The transfiguration, Casket, Leonardo da Vinci, Forster Codex. We were also reminded of the general accessibility code that we needed to follow: 1) keep controls as simple as possible 2) give players as much time as they need to read text 3) ensure important elements are easy to see 4) avoid communicating important information by colour alone 5) avoid communicating important information by sound alone.
Having reviewed the instruction and the list of objects, my temporary team quickly decided to design a tower defence game with medieval soldiers as main characters and swords and arrows as weapons (based on their experiences of games like Kingdom Rush). Frustrated by not being able to draw or develop 3D models or programme for a platform game, I decided I’d do something simple (and achievable). I have just learned about twine, an open-source tool for telling interactive, nonlinear stories at FLOSSIE2013, so I decided to try it out.
This choice-based, narrative-centred, CYOA-like hypertext game, released under the GNU Free Documentation License, is about a university student called Anna and her mythical encounter with Da Vinci’s enigmatic mirror writing. It was inspired by V&A’s collection of Leonardo da Vinci’s Foster Codex, Wikipedia content about Leonardo da Vinci, and other materials housed at the V&A. It addresses the Museum’s accessibility policy as well because it is text-based, and uses standard wiki technologies. It is easy to play, and friendly to people with visual impairments. Being non-proprietary, people can easily modify or extend the game.
This year’s FLOSSIE focused on ‘Internet of Things’, which naturally led to a programme that encouraged the sharing of practices of doing, making, crafting, hacking and influencing. For me, getting to know some outstanding, energetic and talented female makers and the amazing projects they have embarked on, and learning from their experiences have been the highlights of FLOSSIE 2013.
For example, the Austrian hacker space Mz.Baltazar Collective really surprised me. There was a heartfelt satisfaction when Lale and Stefanie said Mz.Baltazar Collective was inspired by the Eclectic Tech Carnival (/etc). The slides Mz.Baltazar Collective presented did show an astonishing range of activities they have been engaged in:
Workshops: So many experienced and talented tutors, educators and artists offering high-quality workshops. I attended
- Constance Fleuriot‘s “Designing games with a difference” Workshop, using creative techniques to generate random game ideas. My team came up with a team-based role-playing physical game: fruit-basket vs. nut-cases, mission: freeing grumpy trees by fulfilling tasks including tree identification, leaves collection.
- Astrid Bin’s “Twine: Enabling Everyone to Make Interactive Stories”. Astrid was a great speaker, and twine / twee looked really useful and easy to use. However, I spent most of the time trying to figure out how to get twee to work on my Linux laptop.
- Helen Varley Jamieson‘s Upstage workshop. I’ve known of Upstage for nearly a decade, and finally for the very first time I tried it out for real. Upstage is a bit like Second Life, but offers more theatrical potential (and at times I felt surreal about what was happening with so many sounds and scenes changing).
- Wendy Van Wynsberghe‘s Open Hardware workshop. Wendy taught us how to turn a Arduino Leonardo into a Makey Makey – lots of soldering for me, but luckily I conveniently sat next to Codasign‘s Becky Stewart who was of great assistance to me.
- Libre Graphics workshops: learning GIMP, Inkscape, Scribus…
There were a few more workshops and talks I’d like to attend, but they unfortunately clashed with one another. Here are the photos taken at Wendy’s open hardware workshop.
Artefacto‘s OpenBookQuest project, Jessi Baker’s Provenance website (bringing open data and consumerism together), Artemis Papageorgiou‘s Tele-Topia (similar to my Cinelights project), Sara Wingate Gray’s The Itinerant Poetry Library all showed that women are immensely creative, and are seriously competitive inventors in the age of Internet of things.
The last photo was taken at Wetherspoon’s Half Moon. Wendy showed us how she taught creative common licences to art students. Over the last two days, amid drinking, chatting, eating, sharing practices, knowledge and experiences, friendships have been renewed or created.
It’s that time of the year again. Graduation. This year, 15 students graduated from the BSc (Hons) Computer & Video Games, University of Salford. Here are some photos to entertain visitors to this blog.
After the photos session, I discovered that a secret flower bouquet was delivered to MediaCityUK for me. What a sweet surprise you have arranged for me you lot, Abdul, AJ, Ali, Dan, Liam, Lucy, Ryan and Simon. You have challenged and inspired me in equal measures. No matter what you decide to do in the future, follow your heart and persevere. All the best.
Skilfully compiled from available footage and newly recorded clips, Inkception, a new film produced by my students on the course ‘Creative Media Analysis’ last semester has just been released and will be premiered on 18 April 2013 during the EU COST ACTION IS0906 Tampere meeting at the University of Tampere. Five student projects that turned two academic journal papers on participatory media and digital publishing (Carpentier 2011, Pasquali 2011) into entertaining, easy-to-understand multimedia pieces are featured in this 30-minute film. It is a result of a semester of learning media convergence and transmedia with myself and Greg Foster in the School of Arts and Media at the University of Salford. In this work, the students successfully deployed practical skills, knowledge, and capabilities of analysing, articulating and storytelling. The learning outcome truly celebrates the natures of contemporary convergent and remixing media cultures.
I’d like to extend my upmost gratitude to Nico Carpentier for his relentless support and enormous input, Francesca Pasquali for sharing her knowledge, Geoffroy Patriarche and the EU COST ACTION IS0906 “Transforming Audiences, Transforming Societies” project for administrative and financial support, Greg Foster for inspiring next generation media workers, and all the students who participated.
Inkception, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0), is available now, together with a trailer and a poster below.
The fantastic Peter Caddock gave a half-day workshop on Unity 4.1 to my students in computer & video games (and also some in music) at the MediaCityUK yesterday. The good attendance (25) to this free, drop-in session on a Friday afternoon showed the charm of Peter (and perhaps also Unity;)). The generous contributions from Peter and Studio Liddell have made my life in a world undergoing severe budget cuts and staff reductions much easier.
Peter also announced that Unity 4 has a Linux version. However, I couldn’t find the version to download on Unity’s website yesterday. Although it may still take a while for Unity to release its Linux desktop publishing preview, it’s good to know it’s on its way.
Today, for the very first time, I gave a lecture to a large group (60+) of undergraduate students in music at the University of Salford.
The talk was based on “bits and bobs” of my research interests and the things I do these days (e.g., teaching on and leading the BSc in computer & video games course). I talked about freedoms of remixing, reusing, repurposing, recontextualising music, social media and music, the concept of “spreadable media”, peer-to-peer / crowd funding, open source tools and hacking, challenges emerging from this new age of web 2.0-enabled, sharable and spreadable, user-generated content production and consumption, and some emergent technologies I observed lately. Personally I thought the lecture was well-received, despite the interruption of the slow Uni PC and poor internet connection in the lecture room.
I have always thought that music bears much resemblance to software (or the other way round, since music appeared earlier than software) in that music scores or tunes, like software source code, can be codified, written, studied, modified, recorded, shared, distributed, played, performed. When I was finishing my PhD at the University of York, I co-authored an article with David Beer about the concepts of “hacking” and “music sharing”, titled “Is Hacking Illegal“, for the book Sarai Reader 05: Bare Acts. I wish I could have included the anecdotes from the era of Baroque music (e.g., Bach, Mozart) by drawing particular connections with the compositional practices at that time (composing variations, recycling and reusing tunes). This lecturing opportunity allowed me to put it right somehow, by making a case for variation.
Here are today’s slides, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.