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.
Today’s the day. The LGBTQ+ Positive Voices online exhibition has launched in time for Pride Month. I’m so pleased to be able to open it up and share all the inspiring and wonderful contributions from the 26 artists and creators from around the world who chose to get involved. 💖
The following pages feature on the site:
About – list of creators, thanks, background to the exhibition.
Support Page – I realise some of the pieces in the exhibition may generate difficult feelings for some people. So, it was important for me to direct them to professional organisations who can give them support and advice if they need it.
Artists pages – an individual page for each of the wonderful contributions from each of the artists and creators.
Earlier this year, I put out a call for LGBTQ+ artists and creatives, inviting them to contribute to an online exhibition, which would be a celebration of their positive experiences, lives and perspectives. Thanks to everyone who shared this open call, the response was inspirational, and as a result the LGBTQ+ Positive Voices online exhibition has been created.
The creators included in this exhibition are Ana Iribas Rudín; AnimaeNoctis (Silvia Marcantoni Taddei & Massimo Sannelli); April Winter; Bryony Mair; Caren Jo Shapiro; Charmaine Chapman; Ethan Moss; Frankie; Geoffrey Doig-Marx (GDM); Giridhar Raghunathan; Guillermo “Wildo” Zayas IV; Jeremy Martin; Anonymous; Konrad Natthagel; Kryštof Novotný; Leon Clowes; Linhtropy; Naomi; Paty Rodríguez; Poppy Ash; Rik Versteeg; Robin Swift; Rufus Isabel Elliot; Salome Zhvania; Stefani J Alvarez; Terry Gregoraschuk.
This celebratory exhibition includes videos, dance performance pieces, paintings, digital artworks, audio pieces and games. They represent a broad spectrum of sexual and gender identities from 26 fantastic artists and creative contributors from around the world. I am very proud to be able to share these unique personal perspectives. The range of creative pieces and art in the exhibition is wonderful. And each share a short unique thought-provoking and often emotional personal story alongside them that is a positive reflection of being an LGBTQ+ person.
I’ve blogged over on the British Library Digital Scholarship blog about the Games in the Woods game jam I’m involved in from 15th – 23rd May. It’s a woodland, tree, forest themed game jam being run as part of the Urban Tree Festival. The blog post specifically highlights one of my favourite narrative game making tools, Bitsy, as I’ll be running a free online session featuring it for the launch of the jam on Saturday 15th May. I especially enjoy using Bitsy as it allows people who aren’t programmers to make little retro style games. So, why not get involved in the jam and make your first game with Bitsy?
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.
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).
Next week (11th August) sees the release of two more demo synth pop songs from The Midnight Detective Club on Spotify, iTunes, Deezer, Tidal, Soundcloud, and other music streaming and download sites. This time, Ellen Louise, singer on the tracks, penned the lyrics for Where’s the Magic Gone? They fit the idea behind the song perfectly.
The intention of the songs included in the game is to develop the story of the band and also the game. They give players hints of the supernatural mystery back in the 1980’s, but they also look to the present setting of the game, and are comments on the characters within it. What Destiny Has Planned focuses on the question of whether the future is already laid out for us, whether it can be changed and what it has in store for us. Where’s the Magic Gone? is nostalgic, and draws upon the idea of childhood being full of wonder, fearlessness and imagination, and how that can disappear once you grow up. But it also suggests that it doesn’t have to be that way. The Teen gang themselves are somehow (as a friend put it) “frozen in Aspic”. Teenagers in the 1980’s, but also teenagers now. Or are they adults with a teen mentality? It’s part of the mystery. And if I told you the truth, I’m not sure you would believe me. That would be an understandable reaction, because sometimes I’m not even sure I believe myself. But we will all find out once the mystery of The Midnight Detective Club is solved.
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
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.