Over the past few years I’ve run a variety of hands-on workshops and related activities focused on my creative interests, both as lead and co-lead. These include game making, STEM and digital comic creation workshops. The game making sessions mainly explored interactive fiction (text based games, that are often navigated through via hyper links), and Bitsy (a popular game engine modelled on retro style aesthetics of the early 1980’s). I see games and interactive fiction as a natural fit with libraries – libraries are full of stories, whether they’re fictional or factual. Games and interactive fiction provide creators with new ways of sharing their stories, and the same tools also provide libraries with the opportunity to develop their collections, and tell existing stories about their community (users and location) in new ways.
Bitsy workshop (The British Library): This session was run via Zoom. Staff were introduced to Bitsy, an easy to use (no programming required) retro style narrative game-making tool. As part of the workshop, the relevance of games to The British Library, especially narrative games was addressed. At the end of the session staff had created a basic Bitsy game.
Interactive fiction workshop (University of Roehampton): Staff were introduced to the concept of narrative games, interactive fiction and their relevance to academic libraries and teaching. Using Twine, which is a free and easy to use piece of software (no programming required), the participants had created a short piece of interactive fiction by the end of the session.
Gothic Novel Jam (online): This month long game making event encouraged participants from around the world to create games based on the theme of the gothic novel. It resulted in 45 submissions from participants around the world, with some fantastic interpretations of the gothic. Prior to this I also organised Shakespeare and Alice in Wonderland themed online game jams.
Bitsy workshop (Feral Vector creative festival): This session enabled participants to create characters and narrative on paper for a collaborative Bitsy game based around the area surrounding the festival site. The characters and narrative created were later turned into a digital Bitsy game. Part of the intention of this workshop was to enable participants to play a part in creating a game without having to boot up a computer.
Bacchus Made Me Do This: Another collaborative experience – this time in a pub – where participants were invited to use coloured markers and pens to rework images from old books. The images were then scanned and added to a 3D explorer game that used Bacchus (God of wine) as its theme.
Interactive fiction workshops (Surrey Libraries and Mozfest): I ran a number of workshops whilst working for Surrey Libraries, and focused again on tools that were easy to use and required no coding. These included Inklewriter, Squiffy and Twine. Participants included creative writing tutors, library staff, adult library members, and children in care. The Mozfest workshop was co-run with a colleague from The British Library.
Creative STEM workshops (Surrey Libraries): As part of the Guildford Library Makerspace project, I ran and also supported a range of fun workshops introducing children and adults to entry level electronics, robotics and coding, using Little Bits, Ozobots, Makey Makey and Mbots. It was particularly fun coming up with new ideas like foil monsters participants could tap with a circuit completing magic wand to cast a spell on – the combination of crafting, art and technology always went down well.
Pocket Code (Surrey Libraries and Library Camp): Pocket Code is a smart-phone block based game making system, which is used as an introduction to coding. Using this app, I showed library staff how easy it is to create prototype games that can be used for teaching purposes; and also ran introductory game-making sessions for families.
Digital Comic making workshop (The Lightbox Gallery): As part of the gallery’s British comics exhibition in 2016, I ran a digital comic making workshop for teenagers. By the end of it, they had each created their own small comic using the Comicker app.
Over the past 5 years I have also spoken at a number of conferences and events about using these tools to develop library services, resources and creativity. These include Internet Librarian International, Library Camp, and The British Library’s Living Knowledge Network.
Do get in touch if you’d like me to run a workshop.
If you’re interested in supporting my creative work, please visit my Ko-fi page.