Kevin and my project was a fantastic opportunity to prod at the beginning of an idea.


at the launch event for the CCI i presented i work in progress – or rather the bits and pieces that we have developed to date.


a lot of the time was spent  iterating with the design and the flow of the experience.

Arma 2 provides us with a naturally powerful platofrm – we haven’t so much created a fully functional mod largely because of time but rather try and experiment with the inbuilt building tools.




the lines ad circles and trigger are all units we have placed into the map, their behaviors and pathways are defined and a series of events that we are trying to play out to see what happens.


here is the drone on the runway




the view from the village:




and the same village from the air from the vantage point of the drone




we mainly only had time to experiment with the general feel of the experience, how it felt to be both on the ground and in the  air, seeing both simultaneously and both the act of firing from the air and feeling and seeing the effects of that from the ground.

its worth mentioning that in terms of content all of th models and heavy lifting of the 3d game engine was done by the game – a lot of what we are doing is an exercise in contextualization.

ive spoken in a previous post about the issues surrounding representation in games especially ones that lend themselves to such traditional genres as FPS (first person shooters), and here we are instead providing an alternative perspective on situations that are expected to be applied in a assumed manner (this isn’t doing the ARMA 2 community a disservice they create incredibly complicated scenarios and play them out but are naturally interested in the games primary function as a combat simulator to be participated in).


the good news is it works – it is both disconcerting and uncanny to participate both fro the ground and the air and the specter of a drone and that sense of helplessness is indeed communicated, not to the degree in reality of course but it opens a dialogue about it.


The future of the mod lies in actually reducing some of the gameness of the interface and the program.  We discussed this during our sessions, the experience currently relies on a level of aptitude with the game and FPS games in general to be able to understand and participate in it.  In many ways we would need to break the game and also break the traditional rules of game design – this will not be a balanced experience – in the same way that the drones themselves are one of the clearest examples of the asymmetric nature of the conflict.


The next steps would be to create a clearer sense of the narrative of the experience – an arc and a clear set of situations inspired and based on a real scenarios.  Secondly to create a interface system that moves the game on through a series of steps – simultaneous events that play out for both set of players and pause allowing them to navigate a series of choices – focusing the interactions on decision making rather than reflexes and hand to eye.


We are hoping to progress the project onwards – implementing the above and more, the game platform is an ideal way to explore and express these ideas with implementations beyond conflict situations  hopefully we ll be able to feedback here in the future as that pans out.







The Cultural & Creative Industries Exchange labs ended yesterday with a launch event and the first public reveal of our contribution, Pararchive, a storytelling tool for archival media.

Cultural & Creative Industries Exchange launch event

Joining the other teams at the reception, we got the chance to talk thought the principles and philosophies of Pararchive with interested parties, as well as share our concept designs and scenarios.

Two visitors to our stand included Andrew Wilson – of Blink Media and the Hannah Mitchell Foundation – as well as Dinah Clark, Leeds City Council’s programme manager for culture. Dinah in particular was interested in the implications on intellectual property, ownership and openness in what became a thrilling conversation on the changing nature of work and value.

Pararchive - "Stories about Zak"


Though our intention was only to formulate a ‘concept car’, Pararchive looks like there might be resources available for further development. Just today a funding application was made to begin developing a working prototype… watch this space 🙂

In our exploration of storytelling services, apps and communities at the previous meeting, we were conscious that Simon’s research had begun with media archives related to the Miner’s Strike.

Rather than attempting to create a generic storytelling platform for all possible stories, we understood quickly that a boundary or constraint would surface more interesting possibilities and perspectives…

  • The recent publication of the Hillsborough report provided a set of perspectives, controversies, fractions and accounts that might make for interesting narratives to explore.
  • The breaking Jimmy Savile case also offered a landscape of current and historical narratives that coupled with archival material offer immediate evidence in criminal activity.

We eventually settled on the London Riots as a potent multi-dimensional set of narratives that could be explored in both time and space from multiple perspectives – rioters, police, victims, observers. Also, a rich range of public, social and civic data was readily available from multiple archives.

So, in a somewhat over-caffeinated state inside Mrs. Atha’s hipstery coffee shop, we began to explore stories from the Guardian’s Reading the Riots site to pick out interesting characters that might provide us with archetypal personas and scenarios for the design process.

We settled on four real personalities…

  • Zak, a cafe owner who lost his premises to rioters.
  • Carla, a musician who is still paying a mortgage on a residence destroyed in the riots.
  • Peter, a opportunistic rioter whom also wants to share the frustrations of young people.
  • Angela, a senior police officer deployed to Hackney to protect civilians and paramedics.

Using their real-world experiences during the riots, we began to hypothesise about their motivations for using our service; what would be the stories they needed to tell. From this we began to break down their journeys into tasks which would later inform the user flow and interactions.


Something we began to consider was whether the veracity of stories could be modelled – was truth something we needed to account for, or simply to offer the maximal range of voices and perspectives?

We discussed the possibilities, strengths and weaknesses of modelling an eBay-style reputation, where users in the same place, time or situation as each other could ‘vouch’ for a story’s veracity, commentary or other people’s recollections. This would translate into ‘currency’ that helped user’s ‘earn’ the right to contribute or comment elsewhere.

We also speculated about a ‘conversational’ first experience for new users. Answering simple dialogues such as where they live, their age, where were they, how were they affected could also help you earn currency, but also locate you within the archive’s media objects, temporally, conceptually and geographically.

Ben Eaton and Kevin Macnish

Ben Eaton, a digital artist, and Kevin Macnish, from the University of Leeds, are exploring the ethics of contemporary warfare using game platforms.

“We are looking at creating a practical sandbox-like environment within which to explore the applications of ethical questions as posed by the shifting nature of contemporary combat. At this early stage we are experimenting with creating custom mods for pre-existing 3D game platforms that can be employed in a teaching environment creating a networked interactive experience for multiple students and a session leader to simultaneously participate and enact various scenarios.”

Dave Lynch and Vlad Strukov

Vlad Strukov, a researcher from the University of Leeds, and Dave Lynch, an artist, are exploring the nature of data by using projections on clouds.

“The collaboration looks at the application and interpretation of images projected onto clouds.  The project concerns itself with the nature of data and the human ability to interpret, own and share data. Particularly, the project looks at the emotive as well as political potential of data in its ability to mobilise, create and translate meaning.”

Bloom and The Centre for Translation Studies

Bloom, a digital discovery agency, and the Centre for Translation Studies at the University of Leeds are working on improving collaborative translations.

“We are working together to model interactions between participants in collaborative translation, with a view to identifying opportunities to optimise workflow and to improve pedagogic scenarios for training students in higher education and continuing professional development contexts. In order to do this, we have built profiles of the social interactions among participants in four translation projects. We have also recorded evaluation data, with scores provided for each project by each member of the translation team involved, as well as the commissioners/users of the translation. Our evaluation framework provides parameters relating to aspects of the end product (the translation), as well as the collaborative processes through which it was produced.

The next step is to see whether we find correlations between the evaluation data and patterns in the interaction profile for each project.”

Simon Popple, Imran Ali, Tom Morgan and Dean Vipond

Simon Popple from the University of Leeds and Imran Ali, Tom Morgan and Dean Vipond are working on a collaboration around storytelling tools for large media archives; the team has chosen to use archive media from the London Riots as content for storytellers.

more details to be announced.

The week between the introductory briefings and our first group meeting allowed the team some time to lay down a few basic principles and share some of our respective influences and observations with each other.

We decided early on that with the composition of the group’s skills being largely design and product focussed, that we shouldn’t aim for a working prototype but orient our time around fully exploring the possibility and problem space and arriving at a proof-of-concept. A ‘concept car’ that would point the way towards future development.

Simon’s research interests in media archives and storytelling immediately aligned with the tastes and influences the rest of the group had been exploring in recent years, so we began to assemble these influences into reference points we could later deconstruct and remix.

These included…

By exploring archives, apps, styles and communities, we were confident we could synthesise a best-of-breed storytelling concept from this landscape…

So our first week ended somewhat excitedly North Bar, with a loose set of principles and language, beginning to coalesce into a starting point for the project.

Between metadata, scrapbooks, shoeboxes, climate, people, place, time, tags, narratives, dormant iTunes metadata, personal media archives, our own narrative was beginning to emerge!