Originally published for FACT online
Zoe Yvonne Delaney charts the text adventure unfolding from the fantasty genre into the real world, as the Networked Narrative project gains momentum in Burnley, Hull and Wigan.
When you think of Game of Thrones, the opening title credits to the fantasy series are the first thing that comes to mind. The award winning sequence is as iconic as the northern British accents; the swooping camera work across the three-dimensional map of the fictional world, sweeping the viewer along with it prepares you for the world you’re about to become enthralled in. Each focal point, be it location, building, or the clockwork mechanisms allowing other structures to emerge from the map, introduce the audience to the continents of Westeros and Essos and their inhabitants – and all in under two minutes.
While the Seven Kingdoms may be fictional, in the real cities of Hull, Wigan and Burnley, young people have set about creating their very own fantasy worlds, based on their hometowns.
With the help of Re-Dock, Network Narrative is aiming to re-capture the art of storytelling in text adventures and introduce them to libraries across England. This debut commission, an online text adventure game, has seen young creatives across Hull, Burnley and Wigan work alongside artists to create three narratives, within three genres (one per location). Each tale based on each of the locations; creating an alternative online world parallel to the real world.
Last Saturday’s workshop in Hull, led by artists Chris Rodenhurts and Neil Winterburn, saw the group set about assembling their maps of the alternative world they had been envisaging over the weeks. A previous balloon mapping meeting had seen a Go Pro go rogue, floating away into the sky, but this week’s workshop saw things stay closer to the ground; with the aim being to create a film narrated flyover of their map, Game of Thrones -style.
There were only four rules:
1. The year is 2065.
2. Robots are stronger and smarter than humans.
3. Bioengineering of plants and animals is common.
4. No aliens – only humans and cyborgs.
Everything else was left to the group’s imagination and the world they would create was entirely in their hands. A morning was spent brainstorming; establishing locations, characters and answering questions like ‘Where do the rich live?’ and ‘What is the main industry?’, before putting the visions to paper.
With huge aerial view maps of Hull to work with, the group brought together an exciting and richly imaginative blend of ideas. From mutated pets, football stadiums that act as Gladiator-esque robot fighting arenas and Tesco car parks transformed into torture camps, the new Hull had been given a rather dystopian aspect. Within a couple of hours the maps had been cut up and manipulated, ready for the Go Pros to soar over.
Hull may not evoke the exotic flavour of Westeros, but their young residents sure are leading us into a story just as interesting….
We’re still looking for participants in Burnley, Wigan and Hull to get involved with the project. If you want to be part of it and get creative find out more here.
See also: FOLLOW at FACT Feat. Shia LeBeouf