Telling digital tales

The written word is just one way in which libraries curate stories. Gary Green describes creating digital storytelling workshops and looks forward to 2016.

For a while I've been interested in storytelling through digital media, and as libraries are places for curating stories, I've wanted to explore the idea of libraries playing a more active role in digital storytelling and story creation in some way.

When I talk about stories, I'm not limiting myself to fiction - they could be both fiction or non-fiction and aimed at any age range.

I also wanted to explore the idea that the written word is only one form that a story can take. Technology provides us with the opportunity to present a story in many new ways including video and audio media, interactive programs and games, and various combinations of these methods.

I've written about the subject on the Read Watch Play blog and also had the opportunity to present something on these ideas at the City Mash event in London last year.

I've been keen to try out some of these ideas, and my first step into this was to run an online game making contest over summer 2015 with an Alice in Wonderland theme. It was the 150th anniversary of its publication and I wanted to see how game makers would interpret this 19th century book theme as a 21st century game. 

Following on from this I also had the chance to run digital storytelling themed workshops as part of Surrey Libraries Digital Friday programme of events towards the end of last year.

One was a family-friendly game making workshop, again with an Alice in Wonderland theme. It tied in with the Pocket Code and Scratch Alice in Wonderland themed game jam (an online game making competition run over a week) that ran just before Christmas. My intention was to introduce attendees to Pocket Code as a tool that can be used to easily create interactive programs, stories and games and also encourage those attending to get involved in the game jam.

I also ran a workshop recently for adults on creating interactive fiction (imagine an online version of choose your own adventures books). In that session I wanted to target creative writers specifically to show them that they can take their writing and apply it to new types of fiction. I was specifically aiming this session at fiction writers, but other interactive fiction sessions in the future could focus on more factual based topics, but provide just as creative outcomes. For example, local history, personal biographies, or something mirroring the human library concept.

Both sessions were hands-on and gave those attending the chance to find out about the software and spend time creating something new with it.

It's early days for these ideas, but in the future I'd like to run more sessions and events like them and give other people the opportunity to discover ways that they can create and share their own digital stories.