Posted by Justine Solomons on February 3, 2018, in News
Byte the Book's Justine Solomons was invited to be a judge on the if: book Award for New Media Writing last month, here's their report from the event at Bournemouth University with links through to the winners work.
The winner of the 8th annual if:book award for New Media Writing , was The Cartographer’s Confession. Written by UK writer James Attlee, it is an immersive story based in London, where ‘players’ interact with the app on location, to discover the long-hidden secrets of ‘The Cartographer’. Containing visual- and sound-scapes to further immerse the audience, as well as having an original musical soundtrack, this is a ‘mixed reality’ experience. Accepting his award from if:book director Chris Meade, Attlee confessed that this blending of sound, video and story is something he had wanted to do previously alongside his print-based works, but wasn’t able to make happen until collaborating with digital producer Emma Whittaker, who was also present to accept the award. Atlee also told the full-house audience that his ‘unposessive-ness’ around his text was an important factor in being able to twist and change the story in order to be able to make it viable with this locative media format, as originally the entire narrative would have taken 8 hours to complete!
Kicking off the evening, the year’s attendees were lucky to have the opportunity to listen to Adrian Smith, Amuzo director and one of the creators of the original Tomb Raider games. Smith talked about his experience with interactive narratives whilst creating Tomb Raider in 1996. Using the New Media Writing Prize’s key elements - Innovation, Interactivity and Immersion - as a starting point for his presentation, Smith gave a rivetting talk about the creation of the phenomenal gaming franchise. The most important element of Tomb Raider’s success was what the heart of the game should be: being able to let the player explore the world, making the game accessible to all, or producing achievable goals and challenges, Tomb Raider provides options for whatever type of gamer you are. Of course, the iconic Lara Croft also played a major part in bringing new players to the game, and chairwoman Stella Wisdom spoke of her own love of the early Lara, pixelated hair and all.
The winner of The Unicorn Student Prize was Canadian Natasha Nunn. Her piece Mary Rose is a thrilling ghost story about her children’s great grandmother. Speaking on video, Nunn thanked Unicorn Training boss Peter Phillips, and talked about how experimenting with genre and technology is helping new beauty to emerge in digital storytelling.
The Dot Award, also sponsored by if:book UK, is awared to the most promsing idea for a narrative that uses new media technology in an interesting and innovative way. The winner will develop the piece with the £500 prize-money, and report back at next year’s awards event. This year’s winner was Lou Sarabadzic whose piece called ‘Nerd’ is about reader response criticism and how readers are the ones who make a piece of writing truly exist.
The Gorkana/Cision International Journalism Award was presented by Bournemouth University’s Brad Gyori, on behalf of sponsors Gorkana/Cision. Gyori spoke about how great journalism and innovation in terms of new media can be used to tap into common and shared humanity. The 2017 winner was Lunik IX, created by Polish journalist Magdalena Chodownik. It shows the destruction and poverty in the Lunik IX estate in Romania, and is a media rich collation of videos and photos taken and edited on a mobile phone. The web-based piece is structured to mirror the tower blocks the residents live in, giving a horizontal and vertical navigation around the narrative. Chodownik Skyped in to accept the award, saying that bringing people into the digital online space changes the perspective of the audience: ‘let them feel like they’re in this place.’
Organiser Jim Pope said all the shortlisted pieces ‘were of a particularly high standard and there were several other excellent works that could have been shortlisted. Each year we see brilliant work from familiar and previously unknown writers and artists from all over the world.’
if:book award winner James Attlee, with (l to r) Chris Meade, judge Justine Solomons, Jim Pope, judge Andy Campbell, judge Stella Wisdom, if:book award winner Emma Whittaker