Multimedia PhDs – Digital Conversations at The British Library

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I attended an interesting event last night at The British Library focused on PhDs that consisted of a variety of multimedia outputs and not just a standard 10,000 word thesis, and the issues this raised when submitting them as research.

All 3 PhDs discussed had very creative elements to them.

Craig Hamilton’s Harkive music focused on the experience of popular music.

Imogen Lesser covered the architectural make up and language of Gormenghast and other Mervyn Peake work.

Tara Copplestone focused on games as an output of archeological work.

Below are the live streams of the session.

One thing I thought of during the session was… even if the researchers can’t submit all the multimedia aspects of their research as part of their PhDs there’s still a huge opportunity to share these outputs with the wider population. All 3 of these research projects have such a wide popular fan base appeal – down to the nature of the subjects they are focused on – that it seems they could have a life beyond their original remit. For example, Imogen Lesser had already created an exhibition of her research including grand scale architect drawings and maps of Mervyn Peake’s world that fans of his work could enjoy too.

Can’t these outputs be made use of and spread the word about this research in a way that will get each of the thesis discovered by more than a handful of academics? I personally found each of these research projects so interesting and creative that they deserve a wider audience.

International Games Day at The British Library

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Last Saturday was International Games Day @ Your Library and I was lucky enough to help organise the free event at The British Library. We were going for an Alice in Wonderland theme in general (although we had many games that weren’t themed around Alice), as the Alice exhibition at the library had only opened the day before – it was a good tie-in and gave us a focus.

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The event included a huge range of tabletop games provided by board game enthusiasts, and computer games from both the British Library/Game City Off The Map competition (including Gyre and Gimble’s game) , and games from Alice Jam 150. We had planned to run a couple of Pocket Code/Paint sessions to show people how to create Alice game art and a game in an hour and to tie in with this Pocket Code Alice game jam in December. In the end we only ran the Game Making with Pocket Code session (lack of attendees) with a couple of people. Even though it would have been nicer to have more people attend, I still enjoyed running it and I think those attending enjoyed it too. Everything else went down very well – we must have had 100+ people come along on the day and many stayed and played for a while. Having tabletop game enthusiasts who could show other volunteers and anyone who came along how to play the games was important. Having Gyre and Gimble there to talk about their game was great too, especially as they received such positive feedback about it. It was also fun to watch other people try out the Alice Jam 150 games – again, all of which got positive feedback. The most popular was Down the rabbit hole.

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As well as the main event we also ran gaming sessions on Friday and Saturday evening as part of the Alice late event – again, the sessions were extremely popular and I’m sure we must have had at least another 100 participants across both nights too.

As well as having fun, it was a great learning experience for me in so many ways, and I had the chance to meet and talk to an interesting group of people helping out at the event – including sharing ideas about Pocket Code. It was yet another event that I came away from buzzing with ideas.

Well done to Stella Wisdom as the main organiser who pulled it all together, and to everyone else who played a part in helping out.

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The British Library online game jam #bl_labs #gamejam

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Exciting library / gaming crossover news… The British Library has announced that it’s running an online game jam from the 4th to 11th September.  The game jam ties in with a winning entry of the British Library Labs competition by Adam Crymble, who proposed the idea of using video/computer games to crowdsource the classification/tagging of digital images in the British Library collection. So, the game jam has been set up to encourage people to create a game that would fit this bill. Games should be created using the phaser.io or similar html5 programming framework. Anyone can enter, but you must be over 18 to work with the British Library.

The British Library are also offering financial support to develop the game, plus a possible £500 prize as part of the British Library Labs Awards. As highlighted on the game jam page:

If we like what we see, we’ve set aside up to £500 (courtesy of the Andrew Mellon Foundation) to work with someone to polish their game and release it as part of our ‘Mechanical Curator Arcade Game’, a 1980s-style arcade console that we’re planning to install in the British Library this autumn.

All completed games (whether they fit the crowdsourcing theme or not) will also be eligible to enter the British Library Labs Awards, with a chance to win an additional £500 in prizes, as long as they use the British Library digital content such as the sounds and images from our open collections.

Full details of the game jam can be found on the itch.io site.

As someone with an interest in libraries and game making, I’m really excited that the British Library running this game jam and I can’t wait to see how this develops.
The British Library game jam is officially announced with an appropriate fanfare. (British Library/Flickr)

The British Library game jam is officially announced with an appropriate fanfare. (British Library/Flickr)