Overlap - Investigations in new and forgotten storytelling

Lost Days of Memories & Madness

It’s almost thirty years since three school friends and I set sail across a pair of lunch breaks at the height of a childhood summer to play a game of AD&D. It’s a distant place now and my memories of our adventure in Gygax and Arneson’s world have blurred with the prefab art classroom we commandeered; a forest of wooden stools and poster-paint Kobalds…

Andrew Kenrick’s new storytelling game Lost Days of Memories & Madness forges the smoke-like characteristics of memories into a more tangible form. ‘Lost Days…’ treats them as marble-like treasures and trinkets to be hoarded, swapped and thieved by his cast of recollection-addicted Elven nobles. I’d like to show you a few from my collection, with the caveat I’m unsure how many of them actually belong to me.…

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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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Join Overlap for a terrifying Halloween hangout

Join us at 8pm on Monday 31st and watch us get scared witless by pixels.

To round off a month of videogaming, Rob and I are hosting a hangout on Google+ this Halloween (that’s the social network’s built in video chat if you didn’t know). For this, the second Overlap online social, we’re getting to the bones of horror games. Controllers in hand, we’ll nervously guide characters to their certain doom while chatting about what makes the games tick with the help of classics such as Silent Hill, Resident Evil and Siren. What makes a game genuinely terrifying? How do games compare to other horror genres? Where does the story sit amongst the shocks?

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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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Horror games on the run

Or ‘How Telling Tales While Being Chased By Zombies Helped Me Survive Slingshot’s ’2.8 Hours Later’…

Taking part in Slingshot’s City Wide Zombie Chase Game 2.8 Hours Later in Leeds last month, my fellow apocalyptic survivors and I found ourselves wondering two things: Did we have what it takes to survive an undead uprising? And, if so, what stories would we have to tell? To spoil the first question for you right off the blood-stained bat, we did survive. But it’s taken me several weeks since the zombie outbreak to bring myself to tell the tale…

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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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Announcing Overlap S0E1: Dicing the Dude – Storygames, Collaborative Narratives and Remixing the Coen Brothers

Crowdsourced plots, spontaneous story creation and the vandalism of a rug that really tied the room together are all under investigation in Overlap’s examination of Storytelling games this August.

From TV shows that never were and Lovecraftian insane asylum pen pals to Citizens-Band Radio horror and Polish child soldiers in WW2 storygames’ live inception, design and delivery offer startlingly rich and terrifyingly immersive narratives that put players in the maw of story. They’re as underrepresented and misunderstood as they are intriguing however and we’re delighted to welcome Steampower Publishing owner and White Dwarf Editor Andrew Kenrick to Overlap for an introduction to this quietly revolutionary form of storytelling.

Covering the medium’s origins in pen-and-paper roleplaying games as well as principles of play, standout systems and possible futures, Andrew will also look at Fiasco - a  new storygame based around the ‘Small Time Caper Gone Wrong’ movies that are the Coen Brothers’ weapon of choice. There’ll be a chance to explore classic bowling noir ‘The Big Lebowski’ from inside the Dude’s head with a brief interactive ‘trip’, before taking a look at how the medium’s tools can augment the toolkit of any storyteller.

This is a ranging and skillset-enlarging look at a strange and beautiful platform. We’d love you to join us.

Our tale begins in Sheffield, in the intimate surroundings of the GIST Lab, just two minutes from Sheffield train station, from 6.30pm for a 7.00pm start. You can order tickets using the form below or by visiting the event page on Eventbrite. It’s free.

Engaging the Senses

Road Home – Photo by davedehetre on Flickr

Photo: Dave De Hetre via Flickr

Setting a scene in a tight space can be hard; limits in form or length are often-encountered challenges when adapting content for different platforms. If you want an economical example of scene-setting, you could do worse than listen to the song ”Hotel California”.

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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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