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One of the original members of WRT, Christy Dena, has come out with a unique iPad experience entitled, Authentic in All Caps. (Just under a week to help with the funding.)
At WRT, we’ve had lots of conversations about using the Internet as a kind of palette. But Christy and her collaborators have taken the idea further. She’s not only imagined a kind of walking tour around the Web, she’s imagined an entire alternate universe that one can navigate as they’re navigating the Internet. Authentic in All Caps could never be an AAA game. It would simply explode out of the game box and shower you with game art.
Since her days on WRT, Christy has become a world-renowned scholar on transmedia narratives. Her theories have been cited by the likes of Henry Jenkins and have become required reading in many courses. Well-respected in academia and business, she’s worked as a consult and creator on many gaming experiences, and has quite the track record of success. The trophies and badges cram her virtual shelves.
Authentic in All Caps is a master work, a story about woman and sidekick facing ridiculous obstacles to being herself. The story is complex and yet playful. In this project, as she explains, Christy is harnessing the rich narration that audio drama creates, her deep understanding of an ARG aesthetic combined with a wildly imaginative carnivalesque inversion of the cultural hierarchies. Here is a satirical world where artists are assassins and quantum physicists run the underworld. A world I’d love to romp in.
When I asked Christy about this recently, she said,
Christy:Remember when we started WRT?! Good times. :) Back then I was very keen on the use of chatbots in storytelling (and still am). But I was really excited by IF and all the possibilities there. I also got into alternate reality games, created a few of those and worked on big branded entertainment projects. I’ve also been lucky to have worked as a writing and design consultant on digital extensions to theatre, film, and gaming projects. So over the years I’ve been through the process of having huge external constraints being put on ideas, as well as the constraints of limited budgets and constraints I put on myself to facilitate the creative process.
Christy:So now I’m putting more time and effort on playing with digital technologies for my own wacky stories and ideas. I recently launched a playful story for the phone at a pervasive gaming festival in Melbourne (and this will be released worldwide soon). But the big personal project I’m working on is a web audio adventure. The idea for this unusual storytelling approach came about from my work on alternate reality games, and my love of audio, comedy, and digital technology. I’m combining radio drama with web navigation and online storytelling to create a web audio adventure. It hasn’t been done before and so I’ve spent the past year refining experience design issues and of course honing the script.
Christy:I’m really excited about trying out new things to stretch myself. I love trying to figure out what techniques to draw on to make something work - IF techniques, game techniques, radio drama techniques, and so on. We often find that these sort of projects are either assisted in some way through university programs (ha!), or arts funding. But mostly we have to experiment with our own funds and time to show people it can be done. If this project just needed me, I would keep doing the work. But this project needs a team of people to work on it, including an ensemble cast. A great crew of people have done a lot of work already either for free, for mates rates, or deferred payments. I’m now at the point where we need the final funds to complete.
Christy:So I’m experimenting with crowdfunding. I’m one of those people who doesn’t like doing marketing. Like most of us, I’d much rather be working on the project. But we have a world now that is more welcoming of people marketing their own projects. I don’t want to use a publisher or brand or distributor to get this project out. I want it to be truly independent. But all that means is you shift who you’re dependent on. Rather than spending all my efforts on funding bodies, publishers, brands, or philanthropists, I’m going direct to my audience. It is a fascinating process, and I’ve learned a lot about how these things work along the way.
Christy:The best part without doubt is the excited praise from colleagues around the world. They really want to see this happen, and so they’re sharing the news and pledging when they can. I love it when people get excited about the artistic techniques we’ve using. I love that backers from 14 countries are behind it, and we’ve even managed to get press in places in like Polygon and Wired - which is a delightful surprise! Truly different projects are hard to support when they’re not complete. Innovation (whatever that means) is weird when it is young. So I’m really interested to see if there is a way we can fund these kinds of experiments in storytelling.
We certainly wish Christy well in her venture, and look forward to playing along! Help bring this project to reality. Listen to the pitch and pitch in!