Hello! This is a quick update on recent and this weekend’s events:
An unusual interview
At the end of last year I had a special guest come stay with me. Her name is Cara Ellison and she is an international games journalist and critic. For a year Ellison has been conducting a fascinating project: “Embed With…“. She has been flying around the world ‘embedding’ herself with game developers and sharing her view of the experience on tumblr. After noticing my game Magister Ludi at the Freeplay Independent Games Festival event ‘Parallels,’ Ellison decided to come to Australia for the final interviews. In December Cara, and game critic, journalist and theorist Brendan Keogh came to visit. – the interview with Goldie (the artist on Magister Ludi) and myself is on her tumblr. I am so thrilled to be a part of this fascinating interview series, and had a ball with Cara and Brendan.
Article on interactive writing for the QWC
More recently, to prefigure my forthcoming workshops (see below), I was asked to write a short piece for the Queensland Writers Centre blog. The article, ‘Characters, Players, Writers and Interaction,’ shares some of my experiences and thoughts about interactive writing.
Digital Writers’ Room workshop for QWC in Townsville & Cairns
This Friday I will be flying to Townsville to give an interactive workshop to secondary school and first year university students. The special programme is called iWrite and is run by the Townsville Writers and Publishers Centre. On Saturday I will run a workshop in Townsville at the QWC for writers, and then I will fly to Cairns and run a workshop on Sunday. I really love the digital writers room format I have been developing, where I encourage peer feedback and we get to execute mini exercises in interactive writing.
Closing presentation at the WIDGET Unconference
While I will be travelling interstate for the workshops, I will give a remote presentation to for the first WIDGET Unconference. I have previously written an article for the WIDGET site, and I am very flattered and excited to be giving a special presentation for the special day ace Leena van Deventer has organised. I’ll be sharing a mixed bag of tips and tricks and triumphing over trauma.
WIDGET (Women In Development (Games & Everything Tech)) is a not-for-profit organisation supporting those underrepresented in the fields of development and technology, specifically women (including women-identifying) creators across a range of disciplines. We support women developers by means of supplying resources, showcasing role models, and providing an encouraging space in which to ask questions and learn from others. WIDGET hopes to increase the number of women making awesome stuff in our culture and community.
I like doing these round ups of the year. I have only been doing them (that I recall) these past couple of years (2013, 2012), but they’re a good technique to both reflect and look forward. As I have also done previously, I have categorised the summary of activities. But this year I also add photos at the end.
- My 2013 commissioned digital installation Robot University was launched to the public at The Cube, QUT on Feb 27th. A mini-documentary about the making of the installation was also released. It is a pretty great feeling to drop through the venue every now and then and see your robot friends hanging with kids.
- My physical game Séance for Lost Stuff was a featured game at Pop Up Playground’s 2014 Fresh Air Festival in Melbourne. That was fun to make and play (I especially like the ritualistic emphasis), but I’m not sure if I will develop it further.
- I was excited to be commissioned to create a digital game for Experimenta’s 2015 International Biennial of Media Art: Recharge. Magister Ludi puts a twist on escape-the-room games and asks you places objects into the room you will need to escape. It is a game about how we don’t really escape school, abusive relationships, or poverty until we’ve acknowledged our thought-processes that attracted us to them in the first place. The title also alludes to Herman Hesse’s novel ‘The Glass Bead Game’. It was launched in November both onsite as an installation and online.
- I was commissioned to create an ambient party game for my work Xmas party. The boardgame Shenanigans was a lot of fun to create and play, and I’ve released the rules and board for anyone to use (for any event).
- I co-GMed a MegaGame called Watch the Skies. MegaGames are a UK-designed format involving around 20-40 role-players taking on tactical and social tasks to save the world.
- In the background I kept developing my party card game DIY SPY School, playtesting it with colleagues, friends, and students. After some time away from it as well, I have come up with some nifty refinements and am keen to jump into blindtesting as a last step.
Awards & Accolades
- AUTHENTIC IN ALL CAPS, won the 2014 ‘Digital Narrative’ category at the WA Premier’s Book Awards
- AUTHENTIC IN ALL CAPS also won the 2014 ‘Interactive Media’ category at the Australian Writers’ Guild Awards
- AUTHENTIC IN ALL CAPS was Official Selection for the 2014 Electronic Literature Organization’s Media Showcase
- Magister Ludi was Official Selection for the 2014 Freeplay Independent Games Festival’s Parallels event at ACMI
- AUTHENTIC IN ALL CAPS was profiled in the Canadian Media Fund’s Transmedia & Multiplatform Resource Kit
It was super surreal winning these awards and having these great Official Selections. I actually debated with myself for weeks (I knew ahead of time) about whether I should even accept the awards. I don’t know why, but I see these sort of things as end-of-life events. You know, you’ve made it when…. It is unanticipated to have these things come my way so early in my career (I was hoping for a nomination). But in the end I have embraced them and take them as a message to keep going, to not give up.
Presentations & Events
- I gave the keynote presentation at Transmedia Living Lab in Madrid, Spain. It was a delight catching up with some great colleagues from around the world, hearing what projects they have been working on, and having fun in the streets on Madrid with Mojitos. It was also the first time, I have to confess, that a client flew me business class. I have been travelling long-haul to multiple countries every year for years. I was used to it, I had my frequent flyer injuries, and I knew what to do to make my journey comfortable. But flying business class for long-haul flights is a delight. Besides some luxuries like Bvlgari toiletries, what we had is what everyone flying long-haul should have: good food, pleasant service, comfortable blankets, reclining seats, clean toilets, working TV systems, good headphones, and so on. I really hate that sub par service is the norm. But thank you TLL for the experience.
- I chaired and was a panelist at the Brisbane IGDA event GO423 Symposium
- I ran a Digital Writers Room (workshop) at the South Australian Writers Centre
- I ran a workshop on Designing Deep Games for the Western Australian Film & TV Institute. Both of these digital writing workshops are part of a format I have been developing: the digital writers room. It is about peer-to-peer advice with key facilitated learnings. I’m exited about the format and am keen to run more around Australia and overseas.
- I spoke at the Brisbane Writers Festival special Story+ event.
- I was invited to participate in a special game jam for professionals at QUT’s The Cube. Morgan Jaffit and I proposed our own idea for a multiplayer game that is sort of a cross between Sifteo cubes, the SIMMS, and adventure game puzzles.
- In May I was flown to the Sydney Bloomberg offices to participate in an Australia Council for the Arts and ABC workshop on creating cross-platform live and broadcast productions. It was there I met
- I was on a panel about making tabletop games at Oz Comic-Con
- I was a guest on Shift-ALT for State Library of Victoria talking about digital writing
- I did guest lectures on Interactive Writing and Transmedia Design for different courses at Griffith Film School
- Published definition for ‘transmedial fictions’ in The Johns Hopkins Guide to Digital Media (2014) Marie-Laure Ryan and Lori Emerson, Benjamin Robertson, eds. Baltimore: MD, Johns Hopkins University Press
- Published chapter, ‘Transmedia as “UnMixed” Media Aesthetics’, in Transmedia Practice: A Collective Approach (2014) Deb Polson, Ann-Marie Cook, JT Velikovsky, Adam Brackin, eds. Inter-Disciplinary Press
- I wrote a long essay on intrinsic design on this blog. I am trying to get back into my blogging and this was a big epiphany post for me. After speaking with some AAA devs afterwards, it was clear they knew about these differences in design but feel they have to use extrinsic to make their games more accessible.
If you want a scan of my contribution to these book publications, just shoot me an email.
- I became a member of the Australian Writers Guild
- I became a member of the Australian Directors Guild
- In May I flew to New York to co-run the first Forward Slash Story lab with Lance Weiler. After years of bubbling the idea and waiting for others to create it, Lance and I got together and jump started a special lab for storytellers working in tech. We had great participants from around the globe come together at a beautiful venue. It was a totally beneficial experience and so Lance and I are excited that we will be running the next one in 2015.
- I mentored a Year 11 St Thomas More College female student who wants to study game design (as arranged by Alice). The programme is called ‘Becoming M.O.R.E. Mentoring Program‘ where Local, State & Federal MPs were special guests. My student won the prize for best project.
- I also introduced a public lecture series to the SAE Media Institute called ‘What I Really Do.’ I commission ace professionals to give a talk about what they really do in their work, and make it free to attend to anyone in the community. So if you’re ever travelling through Brisbane make sure you let me know (games or not, all artforms welcome).
- The Robot Uni installation was featured on Channel 7 morning news.
- ABC Radio National, ‘Banished, Veronica Mars, and Robophobia‘ — Cassie McCullogh, The List, 14th March
- Blouin Art Info, ‘INTERVIEW: Jonathan Parsons on Experimenta “Recharge” and Media Art‘ – Nicholas Forrest, 5 December 2014
- Spook Magazine, ‘Future Now: Experimental Media takes over RMIT‘ – Spook, 12 November 2014
- Crikey, ‘Freeplay Celebrates with 12 New Home-Grown Games‘ – Peter Green, 22 October 2014
- Time Out Magazine, ‘Experimenta Recharge‘ – Finn Houlihan, 1 October 2014
- Fluoro, ‘Recharge: Experimenta’s 6th International Biennial of Media Art‘ – 30 Sept, 2014
- Game Cloud, ‘Designing Deep Games with Christy Dena‘ – Kirk William, 28 Sept, 2014
- if:book Australia – “My Robot’s Jam” – Simon Groth and Emily Craven, 17 Feb, 2014
- ABC Radio National, ‘How ancestors influence your behaviour today‘ – Waleed Aly, 1 Dec, 2014
It is weird to have this category, as it is the first time I have taken on full-time employment for over a decade. I took on teaching game design at SAE Creative Media Institute in Brisbane. I have been promoted and am now Senior Lecturer in Game Design, and Unit Co-ordinator in Overview of Industry. With the former it means I run an awesome studio unit teaching game designers ‘deep game design,’ and with the latter I create the online interactive content and manage the teaching of industry skills (like networking etc) across all campuses in Australia. I am so thrilled to be running a studio unit on deep game design. Basically it includes a lot of what is missing from some undergraduate courses: things like emotional design, personal games, narrative and mechanic blending, and finding your voice. What is even more awesome is the studio-model of teaching. I don’t give lectures, instead I mentor the students through making games from my briefs, taking them all the way to an exhibition in a gallery.
Looking back over the year I have managed to keep active with my own creative pursuits despite working full-time. But I have found that when it comes to the intense production times, I can only work on one project at a time. That is why my Chrome App and card game went into the background at the end of the year.
Looking forward to 2015 I am excited about some releases and new commissions. Firstly, I will be releasing the Chrome App version of AUTHENTIC IN ALL CAPS which was funded with a multiplatform drama grant from Screen Australia. This was the format AUTHENTIC was always intended to be created in, and so I am pleased to have it out in the aesthetic form I envisioned. But importantly, I will also be releasing the code to make your own audio tour across the web. I hope others jump into developing this unique form.
I will also be releasing my card game DIY SPY School either through a publisher or print-on-demand. I haven’t approached publishers yet, but I probably will once I have printed out the final(ish) version of the game. If the publishers take too long or are not interested, I will get it out there through a print-on-demand service. So it will definitely be romping through the world in 2015. I have a couple of game commissions, as well as my own major project. The latter I am doing a slow cook with, giving it time to really refine and find its sweet spot. So it may take a year or two. I don’t mean that I will think about for 2 years. While I have been fortunate to be commissioned and given grants to create projects, the funds have been so small that I don’t have room to really develop the project technically. I can and do develop before the prototypes and beyond. But there is never enough budget to make big changes. I want to be able to make big changes as I’m making it. I don’t know how I will be able to make that happen, but I have a long-term plan. I also have a couple of book contributions coming out, and Lance and I will be running the next Forward Slash Story lab.
Indeed, I am very excited about this. Forward Slash Story will be held over 4 days in 2015, in Costa Rica. It is an amazing venue and will be an amazing time for curious creatives. We have some great applications that have come in already, and we will be extending the due date for submissions to ensure we catch even more. So make sure you get in your application by Jan 20th. It is an event designed for practising creatives in mind. It is for people who give a lot with presentations and mentoring duties themselves — it is a time for them to be fed by a great mix of peers. So get in there!
See you in 2015
At Transmedia Living Lab, Madrid
The launch of Magister Ludi at Experimenta’s 2015 International Biennial of Media Art.
Receiving the award for ‘Digital Narrative’ category at the WA Premier’s Book Awards.
The Routledge publication of my definition of ‘transmedial fictions’ in The Johns Hopkins Guide to Digital Media