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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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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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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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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Amusement Arcadia – The Machine

Described as “…a computer designed to analyse and decompose Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Rambler’s Lullaby II”, on the page, The Machine’s chattering, clattering stream of data at first looks like book music for an organ or the kind of game listing I would have typed into my beloved Spectrum 48k.

It’s neither of these things, but the comparisons are interesting. Written in 1968 by author, filmmaker and Oulipoist Georges Perec, The Machine is in fact a radio play, adapted for live performance by Sheffield-based performance artists Third Angel in Sheffield  just last month.

The play’s story borrows the forms and restrictions of computer programs, but it’s a lot more interactive than its monolithic title suggests. Not so much in the dazzling – and often very funny – back and forth between the computer’s separate processors as they attempt to fathom Goethe’s poem about solitude by (for instance) substituting its nouns for fairy tale motifs, as in the audience’s slow assimilation into its subroutines and  algorithms…

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Secret Agents and Their Challenging Narratives

Thanks to all who came down to Overlap Season 0, Episode 2 at Brezza earlier this month.

I hope you all had a good time, I certainly did and it was great to see the responses to my game-making challenge (a selection can be seen in the image above). With ideas ranging from multiple personality issues to blind brothers in love (with each other) it was certainly an interesting look into stories that tell complex stories, but remember to keep the player engaged.

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Russ Stearman introduces Overlap S0E2:The Secret Agent

Russ Stearman is our guest host for the second episode of Overlap’s pilot season. Here’s his introduction to the event which takes place on 11th October in Sheffield. There’s more info at our announcement for Overlap S0E2.

This Tuesday we’re looking at ‘The Secret Agent’ of stories and videogames. We’ll be exploring the idea of who’s controlling who and to what effect. Based on the title, you might be mistaken for thinking it’s a look at the stories of a certain Mr Bond and his ilk, foiling world terrorism and certain destruction. I’m sure there’s a whole other talk about the portrayal of super spies in games, but my inspiration comes from a different (although equally explosive) source.

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Announcing Overlap S0E2: ‘The Secret Agent’ with Russ Stearman

Following the hugely successful and only slightly uproarious Episode 1, the second in Overlap’s pilot season of live events investigating new and forgotten forms of storytelling, ‘The Secret Agent’, will take place in Sheffield, UK on Tuesday October 11th from 7.30pm.

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‘Jenga Apocalyptica’ – User Generated Content in Grand Theft Auto

Luridly splashed across the headlines of 14 years,  Grand Theft Auto has evolved from the exploits of a literally faceless psychopath engaged in a ‘race n chase’ for a crime lord to the ambitious tale of a Serbian emigre in New York-alike Liberty City. Mouthy, assured and occasionally inspired, the scripts of the main storylines would brighten the corners of all but the gutsiest of B-movies. But here, in this most influential of videogames, they’re a sideshow. The true Rockstars of Grand Theft Auto are neither the celestially-named producers nor the sidewalking, starry-eyed avatars. They’re the players.

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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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