This Girl Codes Curiosity Academy

Recently, I was really excited to be asked to participate in the Curiosity Academy project run as part of Junction Arts This Girl Codes project.

This Girl Codes is based around a “series of taster sessions, pop-up heritage STEAM labs in historic houses, castles and caves as well as festivals, trips and events during school holidays.

Bad plants!

I was asked to run a Bitsy game session around the theme of Creswell Crags, and the witch marks they’d found there a few years ago. Since submitting a Bitsy game to Creswell Crags Winter Folklore Festival in 2020, I’d wanted to follow up and do something more with them. So, it was great to be asked to participate in this programme of events. Similar to a session I ran at Feral Vector, I thought it would be a nice idea to get everyone to collaborate on a game, and it worked so well. I really wanted to see what story and characters they would come up with themselves, and the end result was a lot of fun. The participants created their own characters, game narrative and settings based on the folklore and history of Creswell Crags. And after that (proving that Bitsy is really easy to get to grips with), one of the participants was inspired to make her own game, and I helped finish it off. I wasn’t able to travel to Creswell Crags, so I did this all virtually with the support of the project co-ordinator and artist, Amy and Cora.

You can play the game, Mother Grundy’s Protection, on the This Girl Codes site. It’s “based around the myth of Mother Grundy, rescuing a local boy from poisoning, with the help of herbs, animal guardians and tree spirits.”

You can also read more about how the game was created in this blog post.

Looking at the rest of the activities during the Curiosity Academy, I was very inspired by the focus on the overlap between physical and digital art made by local communities, and also the making process itself. Also tied in with the strong folklore and nature theme, it was a project that was right up my street and I loved being involved in it.

Off the back of this, projects created as part of this programme of events are on display in the interactive exhibition, Sweep Away The Silence, at Creswell Crags until 5th October (closed Monday 19th September). It includes “light paintings, spell poems, audio recordings, incredible artefacts found within the caves and much more.

Get down there if you can. ūüôā

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New game: a 3D interactive folktale

Every year, when winter is almost at its peak, a house grows in a clearing in the old wood. Fuelled by the frost and sun, the tangle of branches sprouting from its roof glisten in the cold air. And every year, a spirit of the wood grows within it too. A creature whose responsibility it is to ensure that the guardian of winter is able to rest well for the following seasons, and that his sister has all she needs for her period of guardianship over the coming spring.

I’ve released another free to play browser game on itch.io, called Sister Spring, Brother Winter. It’s a 3D interactive winter folktale about the changing of the seasons – collect pieces of the fallen sun to help Sister Spring wake the world.

It features a 3D style that gives a nod to the ZX-Spectrum of the early 1980s, including games such as Jepac and Atic Atac.

I used 3D Bitsy to create it – I just find it so fun and easy to create little narrative games using this game making tool. 3D Bitsy¬†is made by aloelazoe, which is built on Adam Le Doux’s Bitsy.

You can play it at https://ashg.itch.io/sister-spring-brother-winter

New Workshop – Creative Digital Experiments with Collections

On 21st April I’m running a new online session as part of the Beginning Cataloguing seminar programme, which will be focussed on how libraries and heritage organisations make use of technology to share and re-work their collections and resources in creative and engaging new ways. I’ll be sharing a variety of inspirational examples from organisations, along with how online mapping and narrative tools can provide visitors with a new digital discovery route into your collections.

You can book now via the Beginning Cataloguing Teachable site.

While you’re there, take a look at the range of other interesting cataloguing, bibliography and book history seminars and workshops that Beginning Cataloguing is running.

Photo by David Bartus from Pexels

the MASS: December 2020 issue

One of my Bitsy’s, My Face, has been included as part of this month’s the MASS – “a monthly online collection of discursive art, articles,¬†opinions, prompts, thoughts, and questions, gathered in response to global issues.” The issue’s focus is “TRANS-“, so it seemed like a good opportunity to share this small digital narrative focused on my thoughts about what lies underneath my makeup. The rest of the issue includes a wide range of art responses to the theme, including painting, sculpture, dance, video, text and an interactive website.

CRESSWELL CRAGS WINTER FOLKLORE FESTIVAL

One of the themes that regularly appears in my digital stories and games is folklore and myths. In Midwinter Spirits, I created a little retro-style digital story with a focus on winter folklore. I’m really pleased that it’s featured as part of Creswell Crags Winter Folklore Festival, which is a free online festival running 18th – 21st December 2020. As part of my involvement in the festival, I also wrote a piece on winter folklore representation in this digital tale, and other games, including Never Alone (Native Alaskan), Roki (Scandinavian), and Yukie (Japanese).

You can read the piece here.

You can play Midwinter Spirits here.

You can find out more about Creswell Crags free Winter Folklore Festival here.

The Midnight Detective Club

I’ve been mulling over the idea for this creative project for a few years now, but The Midnight Detective Club is one of those grand ideas that I’ve had to take time over to work out what I want to do with it, and how I piece it together. The concept is focused on a number of things:

  • A Nancy Drew / Scooby Doo type mystery
  • A nod to early 1980s pop groups and culture surrounding them
  • An art/fashion exhibition
  • Personal experiences

My biggest dilemma was trying to decide on which is the best way to frame it as a digital project, and the best tools to use. I’ve now decided that it will take the form of a chapter based digital narrative with varying elements of gameplay and puzzle solving, and I’ll be using a variety of digital tools to represent each chapter. At present these tools include:

  • Twine – text based interactive fiction
  • Artsteps – 3D virtual online exhibition
  • Pico-8 – a game engine with an early 1980s aesthetic
  • Canva – design software

I have the broad ideas mapped out and roughly know where it all joins up and how the chapters cross paths, and I’m now working on the basics of a few chapters. The most progress I’ve made so far is researching the 1980s pop group/fashion, band based game, and the teen mystery elements, and turning some of that into cover artwork, which you can see below.