Continue Annual Conference @ York Mediale

The beginning of October saw the latest in the BGI’s series of Continue events. Co-organised by Pilot Theatre and York Mediale, this ambitious two-day annual conference brought together heavyweight speakers from the games, culture and arts sectors, deep insights into some of the most creative and immersive theatre, storytelling and education projects – along with game jams, badgers, and a group of three year olds stress-testing new interfaces for gameplay and blasting into space. Typical Continue fare then!

The two days kicked off with BGI Culture Director Iain Simons discussing the importance of ‘platforms’. Looking over through the experience built up over a decade of running the GameCity festival and the National Videogame Arcade, Iain spoke about the way in which different configurations of creative constraints had created new platforms for commissioning exciting work throughout buildings, in specific rooms or across entire city centres.

The call to think about establishing new platforms for making and commissioning creative work was picked up by the NVA’s Professor James Newman who led the diverse audience of arts and theatre practitioners through their first experience of game making. Based around the unexpected – and unexpectedly inspiring – theme of ‘badgers’, eight teams spent an hour and a half of focused making, breaking and remaking as they designed, playtested and refined their creations. As well as giving rise to the most amazingly varied set of word games, puzzle games and board games, the session highlighted ways of using game mechanics to explore complex ideas (from debates around the control of TB to authenticity of ‘alternative facts’) and showcased new ways of encouraging a greater diversity of participation in gamemaking.

The morning was rounded off by a presentation by Professors Peter Cowling and Marian Ursu from the University of York‘s Digital Creativity Labs on creativity and AI. Provocatively entitled ‘Is creativity the last bastion of humanity?’, Peter and Marian began by considering whether creativity is a uniquely human trait and ended with a fascinating discussion about whether an AI capable of creating visual art or cinematic set design could ever really ‘care’ about what it was doing in the same way as an human.

The afternoon programme comprised talks and showcases by a diverse range of artists and gamemakers including Simon Will from the internationally-renowned collective Gobsquad speaking about the robot opera ‘My Square Lady’, Sarah Butcher from Non Zero One and Tom Bowtell and Elliott Hall from KIT Theatre talking about the pioneering work in immersive theatre.

Sam Barlow made a break in his hectic production schedule and Skyped in from New York to talk about the inspiration for the smash-hit game ‘Her Story’ and the process of creating an original experience based around a computer interface and the true crime genre of fiction. Discussing the perhaps surprising absence of Her Story clones, Sam spoke about the challenges and opportunities of working on the much-anticipated spiritual sequel with the support of Annapurna Interactive.

The first day concluded with Continue’s infamous ‘Panel Machine’ firing out questions on arts funding, code clubs and the U.K. computing curriculum, and opportunities for more cross-sector networking and collaboration.

Again, set in the wonderful Hospitium building in the heart of the grounds of Yorkshire Museum, day two began with the Playable Conference and it was nothing if not diverse. Virtual Reality, the UK premiere of binaural soundworks Nightmare and Sweet Sixteen, brainwave controlled movies with over 17 trillion possible narrative combinations created by the University of Nottingham’s Mixed Reality Lab, new twists on the board game incorporating mobile phones and social media, or spaceships controlled by tinfoil hats, a selection of fruit and a microcontroller were all on show – the latter being a particular hit with the group of three-year-olds from the local nursery who joined us before their alfresco picnic.

Day two continued with more fascinating talks from Invisible Flock reflecting on the challenges of developing and implementing the ambitious ‘If You Go Away’ augmented reality experience and Leila Johnston’s guide to storytelling and technology which offered insights and practical tips drawn from Hack Space and other work.

Before the Panel Machine was rebooted for the closing session, acclaimed journalist, author and now Media Molecule Narrative Designer Cara Ellison offered a uniquely personal insight into the promise of videogames as a real and virtual space within which to tell new kinds of stories. Delivering a sneak peak into one of the most anticipated PS4 titles ever, Cara demonstrated ‘Dreams’ to a rapt audience of theatre makers and artists.

And so, just as it began with a discussion of platforms for creating new work and engaging new audiences, this edition of Continue closed with a discussion of videogames and gameplay as a platform for new forms of storytelling. And again, we’re proud to have created Continue as a platform to host and showcase such diverse creative works and inspiring ideas.

Calling all arts organisations and video game creators…

Discover how to reach new audiences in new ways with Continue 2018. Leading practitioners in cross artform projects unite to exchange secrets and perspectives at the bleeding edge of multimedia storytelling and narrative.

Brought to you by The British Games Institute (BGI), Pilot Theatre and York Mediale, this ambitious two-day melting pot of ideas features industry heavy-weight speakers from the cultural and gaming sectors, open discussion and candid sharing, a micro-game jam and exclusive project demos from immersive tech to theatre.

Continue reading “Calling all arts organisations and video game creators…”

Continue Edinburgh Report

The final Continue event of the year before the National Conference took place earlier this month in Edinburgh. 

The fantastic setting of the University of Edinburgh Business School welcomed guests from a range of different cultural industries for the day. 

This day was particularly focussed on trying to shape some actions. As BGI culture director Iain Simons commented in his opening remarks, “by the time we get to the end of today, it’d be great to have some new ideas as to what to do tomorrow.”

Chris Speed from the University of Edinburgh’s Futures Institute kicked things off with an insightful and challenging introduction. The new Edinburgh Futures Institute where he’s based is working on some exciting new research – some of which you can read about in their site here:

Chris Speed

Continue reading “Continue Edinburgh Report”

Full programme for Continue Edinburgh announced

We are delighted to share the full programme for Continue Edinburgh!

In partnership with Riverside Studios, on 16th August we’ll be taking over the University of Edinburgh Business School for an action-packed day of talk and play, uncovering Scotland’s leading cultural game projects. Bringing together cultural commissioners and video game developers, Continue is about creating new opportunities in the game and culture sectors.

Continue reading “Full programme for Continue Edinburgh announced”

Join us for Continue York on the 1st and 2nd October

1st and 2nd October  9.30am registration
Tempest Anderson (TA)  Hall, Museum Gardens, York YO1 7FR
£65 full price, £50 concessions

With ‘narrative’ as the theme for this year’s conference, York Mediale, Continue and Pilot Theatre are collaborating on a speaker line-up that includes acclaimed video game designer and BAFTA award winning creator of ‘Her Story’, Sam Barlow, artist and writer Leila Johnston, Gob Squad collective’s Sarah Thom and creative technologist Gorm Lai.

Continue reading “Join us for Continue York on the 1st and 2nd October”

What Happened at Continue London?

The second Continue event of 2018 took place yesterday in the illustrious setting of the British Library and in partnership with UK Young Artists. After welcomes from Roly Keating (Chief Executive of the BL) and Michelle Bowen (Director of UKYA) things got underway with a fantastically interactive session.

Continue reading “What Happened at Continue London?”

A History of Videogames in 14 Consoles, 5 Computers, 2 Arcade Cabinets… And an Ocarina of Time

Join the curators of the UK’s National Videogame Arcade as they take you on a journey through the history of videogames… in things. Things? Why things? Surely videogames are digital? For sure, videogames are about graphics and sound, they are about zeros and ones, data and code, bits and bytes and pixels and sprites, but they’re so much more than that, too. They are joysticks and mice, computers and consoles, collectible plush toys and Barbie dolls, soundchips and, importantly, ocarinas (of time). Videogames are things we play with. They are playthings. But let’s not forget that they are things.
Continue reading “A History of Videogames in 14 Consoles, 5 Computers, 2 Arcade Cabinets… And an Ocarina of Time”

BGI announces Sheffield as its new national HQ

Nottingham, June 27th – The BGI, the new national agency for games culture, is opening its national headquarters at the Sheffield Kollider, a new hub for creative and technology industries currently being developed in Castlegate, the historic heart of Sheffield. The Kollider building is being renovated with DCMS funding as part of a wider push by Sheffield to create a new cluster for high growth industries in the city. The BGI is one of the first arrivals from a range of creative, technology and biotech businesses expected to locate in Kollider over the next 12 months.

Continue reading “BGI announces Sheffield as its new national HQ”

Continue Edinburgh – 16th August at University of Edinburgh Business School

We’re super excited to share plans for our next Continue event; Continue Edinburgh! In partnership with Riverside Studios, on 16th August we’ll be taking over the University of Edinburgh Business School for an action-packed day of talk and play, uncovering Scotland’s leading cultural game projects. Bringing together cultural commissioners and video game developers, Continue is about creating new opportunities in the game and culture sectors. Highlights include talks from the National Museum of Scotland and a welcome from University of Edinburgh’s Prof. Chris Speed.

Watch this space for a full programme announcement!

Continue Edinburgh is on 16th August at University of Edinburgh Business School, tickets available here

BGI Announces New Board Members

Nottingham, 18 June: The BGI has expanded its board to include a diverse range of stakeholders from across the sector.

The BGI’s board of advisors now includes the journalist Chella Ramanan, Phoenix Perry (Goldsmiths), Karen Hedger  (AIM), Claire Boissiere (Harbee Studios), Melissa Jo Knox (Blazing Griffin), Malath Abbas (Biome Collective), Gina Jackson (Imaginarium), Sitara Shefta (Dream Reality Interactive), Hannah Flynn (Failbetter Games) and Korina Abbott (Kinetic Atom).

Continue reading “BGI Announces New Board Members”