Overlap - Investigations in new and forgotten storytelling

Overlap S1E1 preview: Sara Hill chats to us about Minecraft

On Tuesday 23rd October, Sara Hill will introduce us to the world-building opportunities of Minecraft when she presents the first episode of Overlap’s new season of events at the University of Sheffield. We caught up with Sara to find how her creative journey into the game began.

“A few friends were already playing it really, really obsessively. You know sometimes when your friends (whose opinions you really respect) go on about something until you can’t stand one more conversation about it? That was my first experience of Minecraft – deciding never to play it. This was before the game was officially released, about two and a half years ago.”

So what changed her mind?

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Ian Livingstone Interview

A discussion with Ian Livingstone at Games Britannia 2012 in which YOU become the interviewer!



Loved by the adventurous, feared by the goblin-ey, every good barbarian knows the name Ian Livingstone. Alongside the warlock Steve Jackson, Livingstone brought kobolds and beholders to Britain’s shores as the first distributor of Dungeons & Dragons, before setting up boardgame and miniature heroes Games Workshop, editing White Dwarf and co-creating the million-selling Fighting Fantasy series of gamebooks. Those are the legends, but more recently he’s moved into videogames with Eidos and attempting to turn around the eighteen wheeler in a alleyway that is UK education policy with the Next Gen report.

Today you’re braving the UK videogame festival Games Britannia – home to more astounding phantasmagoria than a night on the ale in Port Blacksand- to talk to the reveared dungeon master about his most recent project – a return to Fighting Fantasy with Blood of the Zombies!

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Announcing Overlap S1E1: Dig Your Own World

UPDATE 23RD OCTOBER: Our venue’s now the Raynor Lounge, still in the Students’ Union but downstairs and just off Bar One.

Following a successful pilot season of Overlap events last year, we’re delighted to break the seal on our first season proper on 23rd October. Led by guest presenter Sara Hill, we’ll be grabbing our pixelated pickaxes and heading for the mountains (well, The Raynor Lounge at The University of Sheffield) to uncover the stories and worlds that are being hewn in Minecraft.

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Who killed Twin Peaks?

When the death of Laura Palmer sent the fictional town of Twin Peaks into turmoil, it also stirred television audiences around the world. It heralded a new era of US drama in the 1990s and took viewers to strange, unfathomable places. For all its cult status today, it did it in a prime-time slot with massive acclaim from the mainstream press. But what was the secret behind the show’s overnight success, and why did it burn out after only 30 episodes?

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The Anti-narrative of Film – Interview with Mark Cousins

Speaking with Mark Cousins during his tour of The Story of Film, the director outlined how he sped up his 900 minute film to turn its flaneur-like walk through a hundred years of movie history into a frantic dance. But since his early television work presenting Moviedrome and Scene by Scene through to more recent directorial work on the films The New Ten Commandments and The First Movie, Cousins’ projects have been characterised by this arm around the waist of a personalised celluloid. And it’s an approach that sees plenty of exposure in Cousins’ most recent project.

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This is your life

When I was a child, I received a bumper-sized colouring book every Christmas. I’d immediately set to work with crayons, filling the pages with a chaotic scrawl that each year got closer to staying inside the thick black lines. Eventually, I outgrew this activity and a different type of book began to appear among my presents. When I was perhaps eight or nine years old, I opened my first diary.

Just like the colouring books, the diary demanded that I filled it in, albeit in a different way. First, I’d dutifully enter forthcoming birthdays and family occasions, the the pages in between would wait to be filled with thoughts and missives from my tiny life. Each day brought its own deadline, demanding that something would happen that was exciting enough to write in the diary. But nothing seemed important enough to be recorded, not even on the cheap ruled paper inside my nylon Filofax wannabe.

As a child, recording my own story was a terrifying responsibility. With new platforms for self expression such as blogging and social media, it’s become a casual habit. But are we also recording our stories in ways that we barely notice?

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A Psychogeographical Tour of Proteus – Part Two

This is the second part (part one here) of our look at Ed Key and David Kanaga’s Proteus, currently available to preorder for Windows with OSX and Linux versions to follow…

‘Proteus’ starts with your character literally at sea, looking across a glittering ocean at a distant shoreline; the soundtrack a rolling, chattering musical instrument that’s familiar but difficult to place.

It’s a description that fits Proteus itself; the game’s bold subpoena-ing of designer Ed Key’s own favorite places (a few of which we looked at in part one) bringing a level of verisimilitude to bear on the island’s seasoned environment, while Kanaga’s music provides the closest the game has to a map – guiding and teasing mysteries and wonders from the player’s exploration of this undiscovered country.

The game itself is similarly concatenated. Key and Kanaga’s game doesn’t so much provide an experience as a canvas for experiences. The island doesn’t flood your senses, instead its abstract design aesthetic in particular encourages the player to bring their own memories and feelings to bear on the island. An example of this reader response was my story about the spinney behind my house as a child from part one but Proteus uses a number of techniques – both blocky and beautiful – to populate its island.

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A Psychogeographical Tour of Proteus – Part One

This is part one of a two-part look at Ed Key and David Kanaga’s Proteus, based on several builds of the game plus an interview and email correspondence with Key himself. Part two will be released tomorrow.

Sat at the end of a long terraced street, the unremarkable new build home I grew up in as a kid was the gatehouse between a grey suburbia and a put-upon but utterly addictive spinney. The garden backed onto a haphazard cryptoforest – squeezed on either side by a deserted barracks and a new building estate – full of sycamores, nettles, shopping trolleys and endless adventure. I would have lived there if it weren’t for the monsters at night.

I never mapped this jungle, despite the benefits of being able to navigate its smelly, sickly streams or escape the yawning, pit-of-the-stomach horror of me and my friends realising we were utterly lost in its belly as the sun began to set. Why not? I think, despite the terrors, deep down I was aware they were nothing against the value this rich, story-filled space held as a mystery. The phrase ‘here be dragons’ is the most exciting part of any map…

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Most Hauntology – The Unknowable Terror of August Stars


“I think the mind makes its own places…”

From ‘The Signal-Man’ by Charles Dickens

The first thing to consider when approaching August Stars’ fearsome new EP ‘Invisible in the Dusk’ is how to listen to it. Sebastien Wright’s dark ambient project is deeply entwined with, and inspired by, frost-bitten, horror-tinged train journeys through Northern England landscapes. Placing it on the lounge stereo feels wrong somehow, like being in a room with a broken window. But with a little set dressing – a Dickensian gas lamp here, a Jack ‘O’ Lantern there – Wright’s barely-there music, described on his blog as “journeys across the desolate Pennines, train rides through rainswept northern towns and the loneliness… which comes with moving to a new city…” can be teased and tamed to warm itself at the fire. And the Dusk reveals its spectral secrets…

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First Play Sheffield 16/02/12 – Report

Convened to bring together videogame experiences, chat and comparison, First Play Sheffield‘s ‘World 1-1′ transported a dozen enthusiastic advocates to a bare pub function room. Gathered round an Arthurian table arrangement, we each had two minutes to talk about the game of our choice. And the modest setting offered some grand stories.

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About us

Overlap is a place for investigation, discussion and events about new and forgotten storytelling. We focus on emerging and undiscovered platforms for stories and narrative – everything from videogames, augmented reality and role-playing games to flash mobs, social media and more.

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