Wigan Library workshop

The Northern Powerhouse 2065 exhibition comes to Wigan! Ground Zero after the nuclear incident in 2035, it’s a harsh environment but one makes do with the old tech lying around. Teletext anyone? To celebrate were some of the Young People who wrote the game and a drop-in Bots vs Bods workshop with Radamés & Hwa Young on the 12th March.

Northern Powerhouse Wigan workshop

This exhibition brings theNorthern Powerhouse: Last Towns Standing to life with artefakes from the game world.

Next stop for the touring exhibition is Hull Central Library (open 5 April – 7 May) with a drop-in workshop on the 9th April (11am – 2pm).


Adding the Final Touches to Text Adventure Time

Saturday 7 November saw the second summit for Networked Narrative take place, and with it the conclusion of the Text Adventure Time project, an online game that young people from Wigan, Burnley, and Hull have been working on since April. Ilona Walker reports back

The project, led by Debbie Chan from FACT and artists from Re-Dock, aims to interest young people in art who are from areas that usually have a lower level of engagement. The project will result in a game, which will be launched online in January 2016, alongside a collection of ‘artefakes’ – objects from the dystopian world created during the project – which will be shown in a touring exhibition in the new year in Wigan, Burnely and Hull.

Continue reading Adding the Final Touches to Text Adventure Time

Wigan Summit review

Last weekend was the 2nd summit and unfortunately the last network narrative event for us in Wigan. Firstly in pairs we tried other people’s games to check what’s good about them and what’s needs improving in particular dead links. We played through three stories and I was surprised by how varied each story was with everything from spooky abandoned libraries to robots that eat bullets, no one story was similar.

Continue reading Wigan Summit review

2nd Summit

7th November, Saturday, Wigan.

The date is set for the second summit of Text Adventure Time. The Young People have been through all 5 workshops and are now ready to meet face to face – many for the first time. Wigan Youth Zone will be the place where creators from all three cities come to tie up loose ends of the story, decide what artefakes get made and come up with a name of the game. Continue reading 2nd Summit

Co-creator from Wigan says…

My first text adventure time event was very enjoyable with all the support and ideas generated from staff and fellow young people alike. From playing Zork and other text adventure games I was reminded of reading the old give yourself Goosebumps books and I wasn’t great at them either. The old games were really useful in showing what works well (the unpredictability of not knowing what choice will leave you dead) and what doesn’t (the games only recognise certain words like examine, even though study means the same) in these games. So in designing my story I decided to choose real places rather than the compass directions as I find it easier to remember and to have several potential endings. Continue reading Co-creator from Wigan says…

Creating an Apocalyptic Adventure with Networked Narrative

The year is 2065 and you’re holed up in Wigan Central Library, devising a plan for the survival of the human race…. Jake Thorne reports back from the front line.

The windows, which have seen better days, offer a bleak prospect: piles of rubble and the shells of burnt-out vehicles, all that’s left of Wigan after a nuclear explosion at a nearby power plant decimated the area, thirty years ago. Seizing the moment, a race of super-robots (now stronger, and in some respects smarter, than humans) emerged and enslaved the remaining human inhabitants. Those who resisted have found themselves on the run ever since. Known as ‘The Carnegie’, they’ve made the old library their base of operations, hoping to make use of the resources there – defunct technologies, illegible to robots – in a bid to overthrow their oppressors. You’ve been tasked with helping them in their struggle. Where will you go from here?

Rewind to 2015, and after a bit of dimension hopping you’ll find a similar scene imagined as part of Networked Narrative’s project Text Adventure Time. In a series of workshops devised by FACT’s Debbie Chan, young writers in Wigan, Hull and Burnley have been working with artists to develop a text-based adventure game, set in an alternate reality version of the North of England.

For the latest session in Wigan, participants were asked to populate this dystopian world with characters whose stories will shape players’ progression through the game. Cue the arrival of Jain D03, a cyborg with a cyber-kinetically enhanced pet fox; Gadget 21, a seemingly invincible killing machine who is, despite this, petrified of rats; and Jade, a resistance leader fascinated by “dead zones” – areas of the city where technology won’t function – and their potential to fuel a war to topple all robots.

Kate Feld, an accomplished flash fiction and short story writer, was on hand to help with character development and story-writing. She suggested a method that was both simple and brilliant: participants would begin by fleshing out characters’ attributes and abilities, after which they would expand on the kinds of problems and aspirations these individuals might have. This last step would prove an effective way of driving the story as a whole.

Once the characters had been realised, artist Glenn Boulter, armed with sticky notes and arcane knowledge of classic text-based adventure games like Zork and Merlin’s Castle, helped participants use the character portraits they’d devised to begin mapping out the choices players will be faced with in-game.

The result was the basic framework of a sometimes distressingly difficult but wonderfully immersive adventure – which when finished will be sure to enthrall players until the coming nuclear apocalypse(?), at the very least.

Wigan Show & Tell

50 years from now, Wigan is not doing so well. It didn’t help that in 2035 there was an explosion at the DW Nuclear Power Plant. There are dead zones in the city where anything electronic just doesn’t work. But could the humans use that to their advantage in the robot uprising? After the fallout, how has the existing infrastructure been re appropriated? How can you communicate without the internet? Is teletext the only answer? These were some of the questions the Wigan group are grappling with at the halfway point. Continue reading Wigan Show & Tell

Wigan 2065 is terrifying!

I might have to be a bit mysterious here. I’m trying to balance telling you about how the Wigan World Creation workshop went with not wanting to spoil story lines that aren’t due to be revealed yet.

Wigan 2065 isn’t somewhere you want to be by yourself. You need to travel with a large family to even stand a chance to surviving a night.

Making a map of Wigan 2065
Making a map of Wigan 2065

Continue reading Wigan 2065 is terrifying!

Wigan cuisine – Pies and Prejudice

It only takes one visit to the town of Wigan to understand why it has firmly established itself as the ‘pie capital of Great Britain’. Step off the train at Wallgate Station and the sweet aroma of mince and onion gravy fills the air, attracting hundreds of lunchtime commuters to countless pastry restaurants lining the ‘Golden Crust Mile’.

Wiganers are proud of their nickname, ‘pie eaters’. But as inconvenient as it might sound, this does not stem from their love of a good meat an’ tater… or so legend has it. During the miners’ strike of 1926, Wigan colliery workers were forced to breach picket lines in order to feed their families. In other words, they were forced to eat ‘humble pie’.

Continue reading Wigan cuisine – Pies and Prejudice

Reprising Orwell’s search for Wigan Pier, the stuff of legend

‘Aye, lad, there were once sideshows and ice cream vendors the length and breadth of Wigan Pier. Brass bands, hoopla stalls, one armed bandits, the lot! Back in the Twenties, it was more popular than Blackpool… those were the days.’

Grandad always did enjoy making up a good fairy tale, but he was right about one thing – Wigan Pier did indeed exist. No, it wasn’t a pleasure pier like the ones at Southend and Brighton, but a wooden gantry for carrying materials between mills. Because it happened to cross the Douglas valley, it jokingly became known as ‘Wigan’s Pier’. And while it probably isn’t as popular as Blackpool’s, it is certainly as well known.

Continue reading Reprising Orwell’s search for Wigan Pier, the stuff of legend