11 Preview of The Snow Witch Art Exhibition

Here’s the Preview of the Exhibition!

You can probably tell that here I was really buzzing and happy to see the finished set up of The Snow Witch Art Exhibition.

It was an utter delight, and a genuine honour to have had my work as the launch pad for so money hugely talented creatives!

The art exhibition opening was also the opening night for Dark Fest – a festival of all things strange and macabre we hold in Portsmouth around Hallowe’en.

It was also another strand in The Snow Witch transmedia story – and this time not only did my creation Donitza, the mysterious violinist with a magical and trouble past appear – but she actually came to life! You can seen her in silhouette at the start of this video.

10 Setting up the Snow Witch Art Exhibition


It was quite something when the day came for the setting up of The Snow Witch Art Exhibition…

Nothing like this had every happened to me before, and the mixture of emotions as I arrived at Cascades Shopping Centre to find an entire unit given over to 40 artists’ work was really extraordinary.

Here’s me at the very start of setup before many of the works had gone up. I am just so excited..!

9 The Snow Witch Project – Art At Southsea Model Village

Inspiration for artists…

One of the things that really continually surprised me about The Snow Witch Project was how many creatives used it as the springboard for their own art. Just so with the installation of two of my characters into Southsea Model Village made by the extraordinary force of nature that is artist James Waterfield.

The model village is absolutely central to the action in the the book. This is a kind of haven where Donitza and her friend Eddie go to escape ordinary life. It’s a place for Donitza of memories, and it is the influence of the model village that on several occasions throughout the story prompts her to discover what she really is.

James’ models were perfect. I had something odd happen to me when I briefly held the model of Donitza in my hand before James installed her, busking with her case outside the shop in the market square. To see one of my creations who had only ever existed in my head take on a physical form was a moment of reification. Really, it is possible to think something into being, I thought. It was quite emotional for me. I never envisioned this as I sat in a trance writing, while listening to the voices and the seeing the movie in my head as I wrote The Snow Witch. The world in my head was enough on its own. And now, here it was – out there in the real world.

8d The Snow Witch Project – Mark Eyles and gamification

Games Make the Difference

One of the major differences between transmedia storytelling and traditional storytelling is the nature of participation.

In the trad story, the creator unfolds the tale, while the audience listens, reads or watches, depending on the medium. The reader / audience is essentially guided by the writer / creator’s choices.

In the transmedia storyteller, the audience are replaced by participants. Essentially, the big difference is that with transmedia the story-maker creates a story world with particular events and activities within it, with which the participants interact. The participants thus create their own experiences and their own narratives within the design of the story world.

Gamification in Transmedia

In this way, the narrative is much less micro-managed than say a film or a novel. There are waypoints in the narrative that participants must hit to get to the next stage of the story with all the necessary information to make the story make sense – but also to influence the outcome. Part of the satisfaction is thus not only about understanding and identifying with characters, but also becoming characters within the narrative and solving and revealing the narrative through one’s activity. Thus, a central part of transmedia storytelling is found in inclusion of gaming elements within the story.

Cue our third expert.

Mark Eyles

Mark Eyles has a long history of game design and storytelling. He has been prominent in the UK games industry from early 80s onwards. As well as designing games and working as a freelance writer, game designer, holographer and entrepreneur, he wrote series for ‘2000 AD’, ‘Sonic the Comic’ and was published in Fear magazine.

Mark also set up and ran undergraduate and postgraduate games courses at the University of Portsmouth, where he completed a PhD in game design, and more recently has focused on writing science fiction and fantasy. He was eminently qualified for the job.

Final Piece of the Puzzle

In many ways, Mark was the final piece of the gamification puzzle. Mark took us through the theories needed to shape a pathway through games, showing us how to think about the design of the experience. With his expertise we completed the main requirements the team needed to develop the story world…

So, now we had to design the story and experience for our participants.

Game on!

8c The Snow Witch Project – Joe Reddington and team writing

The problem of team writing

So, we had the big picture on transmedia storytelling. The next step for the team was to work out how to get 15 scriptwriters in a room together and produce a coherent storyline.

The expert who addressed our group on this was not a writer, but a mathematician, who had hit upon “the right set of ingredients for getting groups of people to writer fiction together”. His approach was essentially about solving systems issues within the creative environment by applying a strict set of criteria to participants’ areas of responsibility and influence.

Joe Reddington

Joe’s track record in producing collaborative works is impressive. His business White Water Writers teaches kids in schools as well as adults, prisoners and university students how to work collaboratively to write a novel in 5 days – that is from presentation of technique through to having the finished book in their hands.

It’s an extraordinary achievement and one that is a testimony to how to get people to work together for a single goal.

A thousand perspectives

The very first exercise we did with Joe was a fascinating exercise in deconstructing and recreating a story. He gave each of us a movie to consider – say, Star Wars or Iron Man – and asked each of us to consider a minor character and tell their story – what they see and experience, rather than the overal narrative or the story from the perspective of the central character. Thus, one might be Pepper Potts in Iron Man, or a storm trooper in Star Wars. How is their story told?

It was the starting point for a day of experiencing perspectives, and also for creating storylines from scratch. It was intense. Working in groups, we created a set of characters, a milieu, and a storyline. The work rate was high, and Joe set criteria which meant there was no room for creative differences. Each character had his or her own story arc, and no one was to interfere with other characters’ visions or tell other characters what to say – provided all was agreed under the plot that had been worked out as a group.

Plot, character, storyline – simple!

It was extraordinarily effective, and when it later came to the unfolding of the plot, the creating of characters and dialogue, we used the lessons he taught us to push forward quickly and efficiently with the minimal amount of ego-based friction. Basically, Joe had designed ego out of the structure.

With this under our belt, we all felt more confident about what was to come – the gamification of the project so that those who were watching the story unfold on facebook and on the streets of Portsmouth would be able to take part in the story, too.