Introducing: Our AI Story Lab writers!
We have the minds, we have the technology… now let’s see them creatively combine to explore the future of storytelling.
The way we tell stories is changing. A revolution in TV, graphic novels, games, hybrid writing installations, apps, immersive theatre, and movies is happening, right now. This is a narrative revolution driven by artificial intelligence (AI).
This May, our AI Story Lab writers taking part in our workshop will learn about creating character-driven stories with AI and to create characters that adapt, feel, learn, remember, and act based on events the audience or player controls; characters with their own voices, memories and personalities. This way of storytelling is interactive, it’s immersive, it’s non-linear and it’s the future.
We’ve chosen writers with diverse and intriguing experiences in storytelling. These writers will work with industry leaders to brainstorm new ways of putting the audience at the heart of a story, to learn new technological approaches and most importantly, to play.
Paper Nations are partnered with The Centre for Cultural and Creative Industries, Bristol+Bath Creative R+D, and creative technology partners To Play For to host this fully-funded, two-day workshop.
The Selected Writers:
Alex is a third year Gold Scholar at the University of Bath, studying computer science and mathematics. He spends most of his free time writing short (and several not so short) stories, as well as coding projects ranging from a website to a political argument bot, and has recently been working on building a pyramid scheme simulator.
Alison is a sound designer, writer and interactive narrative designer. With a background in cinema, literature and games, she develops immersive interactive stories in game engines and is moving increasingly into XR. She is particularly interested in combining language and spatial sound to direct attention and create presence within interactive experiences. This was the subject of her recently submitted practice-based PhD.
In terms of AI within stories, Alison is interested in ways that conversational aspects of digital stories can achieve the fluidity needed for comedy and for revealing character in subtle and compelling ways. She is also interested in the use of AI within character design to explore behavioural psychology and reveal hidden motivation.
Constance is a writer, artist and gamemaker in Bristol. Alongside her own creative practice she has worked in creative technology research since the early 1990s and is a founding member of the Pervasive Media Studio. Constance makes personal and commercial games projects at her company, pretty digital, as well as writing for others. She especially enjoys co-developing projects that encourage people of all ages to be creative with or without technology. Constance also runs a grrrlgames meetup in Bristol for women of all ages who want to make games. Twitter – @prettydigi Insta – @prettydigital
Lucy Telling is Co-Director of Stand + Stare, an interactive design studio that she runs with her brother, Barney Heywood. She has always sought innovative ways to tell stories, initially through immersive theatre and playwriting and then through the distributed narratives and interactive work that Stand + Stare create now.
Marnie Forbes Elridge
Marnie Forbes Eldridge is a freelance Writer and Theatre Practitioner and an Associate Director for Prime Theatre Company. She is a specialist in Drama and Theatre for education and has developed innovative curriculums. Having worked in professional theatre for over twenty years as an actor, director, producer and writer, she is a specialist in storytelling, creating theatre for and with young people, has taught in a wide arena of education establishments from schools to universities, and has developed theatre companies, educational courses, departments, and facilitated the learning of practitioners, students and teachers.
Marnie has created board games and interactive learning products. She has a MA in Theatre Studies, specializing in Japanese and Chinese theatre with actor training and an MA in Writing for Young people. She has written three novels for young people and many plays.
Matthew Thorpe-Coles is a poet and MA Creative Writing student at Bath Spa University, interested in environment, interactive storytelling and social justice. He also writes flash fiction and short stories, and in the past has written for gaming websites, too.
Ralph Hoyte is a Bristol/UK-based poet, writer and mobile immersive media producer (with his 3-man artists’ collective, Satsymph: Marc Yeats, classical contemporary composer, Ralph Hoyte, poet and writer, Phill Phelps, coder, audio-engineer and audio-acoustic musician).
Hoyte writes in the first instance for the voice, his poetic practice ranging from performance poetry thru’ live-art poetry to spatial poetry (graphic and sculptural poetry). Hoyte has held numerous writing commissions and artistic residencies, including residencies with the Quantocks AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty).
In 2018 he self-published ‘Something Needs To Be Done About The Humans’, a novel about AI futures (eBook and POD). As Satsymph, Hoyte and partners use spatial audio technologies to sonically augment land- and cityscapes with soundart, contemporary classical music and poetry fusions, and dramatized heritage scenarios, discoverable through mobile digital devices such as the smartphone. Ralphhoyte.com satsymph.co.uk
An ex-actor and copywriter, Suzanna’s working towards a Masters in Scriptwriting at Bath Spa University and enjoys experimenting with genres and voices. Her gender-neutral play, ‘Caged Bird’, is currently in development, and her latest screenplay, ‘Voyeuse’, recently won Best Pilot Screenwriting category at the Olympus Film Festival in LA, Best TV Series Pilot Screenplay at the New Renaissance Film Festival in Amsterdam, and was a finalist in the Hollywood Just For Shorts Festival and Out Of The Can International Film Festival.
Suzanna also runs Scriptwriters Bath & Co, a networking group for writers, actors, playwrights and filmmakers, and loves travel, music, dogs, monologues, chocolate, family, friends, and wine – though not necessarily together or in that order.
Jasmine Richards was born in London, grew up in a library, and was the first in her family to go to university. She has written over a dozen books for children including: Keeper of Myths, Secrets of Valhalla, and The Book of Wonders, of which School Library Journal said, “Swiftly paced writing, appealing characters, and action-packed; will appeal to fans of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson books.” She is passionate about creating stories that are inclusive and exploring opportunities to connect with readers in new and innovative ways.
Kerry is a creative technologist who’s exploring how artificial intelligence can augment the creative process and inspire new ways to tackle marketing problems. In 2018, after 18 years as an advertising copywriter, Kerry co-founded Tiny Giant, a creative tech agency that helps pioneering businesses to harness the power of emerging technologies.
She’s a podcast host, a university guest lecturer, and the co-organiser of I’ll Be Back South West – the monthly meet-up exploring the intersection between AI, creativity and advertising. Over the last 18 months with Tiny Giant, Kerry has designed an AI curator for the Cheltenham Science Festival, built a donkey chatbot, created the world’s first AI gin – and used machine learning to generate weird and wonderful cocktail recipes.
A new world of interactive, immersive storytelling powered by AI is here and one of the pioneers exploring this new world is our partner To Play For. Using their dazzling AI platform charisma.ai, they are creating a new way of telling stories, by giving audiences the ability to talk to characters, build relationships with them, and have the story itself adapt and react to how audiences play through it.
You may be familiar with choose-your-own adventure books where ‘YOU are the hero,’ or Black Mirror’s Bandersnatch, where viewers control the choices and actions of the main character. In the gaming world, think of games in which you make decisions and interact with other characters in a story-led world such as Skyrim. Or, in theatre, immersive experiences such as the recent adaptation of War of the Worlds, which submerges the audience in the story using augmented and virtual reality headsets.
Unforgettable characters in books, films and TV often seem to leap from the page or screen and come to life in our minds. Now, AI is helping us to go further and faster, to stretch the boundaries of what is possible in how we experience stories and relate and interact with the characters writers create.
The Selection Panel:
Guy Gadney – To Play For & Charisma.ai
Guy founded and runs Charisma.ai, an interactive storywriting platform powered by artificial intelligence. He will introduce their new projects – an interactive drama for Sky’s show Bulletproof, and a series of interactive graphic novels adapted from existing titles that will launch in March this year. Guy has a career in interactive media, initially as the first Head of Digital for Penguin Books UK, then at the BBC, The Guardian, and FOXTEL in Australia, before setting up the interactive storytelling company The Project Factory which produced the official mobile games for Sherlock, Home & Away and other TV series around the world.
With Charisma.ai, Guy is working with television producers, networks, games companies and publishers around the world (including BBC, Sky, Oxford University, and StoryFutures) to bring to life new forms of storytelling which place audiences inside stories, letting them talk to characters and influence the story.
Coral Manton, Bath Spa University
Coral is an artist-technologist and Lecturer in Creative Computing at Bath Spa University. She is co-founder of Women Reclaiming AI, an expanding activist artwork reclaiming women’s speech from non-diverse development teams, by creating a feminist conversational AI, programmed through workshops by a growing community of women.
She is Research Affiliate of The British Library. Her next work is with The Eden Project using conversational AI to develop a narrative experience for young people exploring the environmental impact of Cloud Computing and the internet.
Bambo Soyinka, Paper Nations
Bambo is an award-winning writer, researcher and interactive developer. With more than a decade’s experience in multi-platform storytelling and production, she has initiated and directed projects across the UK and internationally. She is the executive development producer at Paper Nations and head of the Research Centre for Transcultural Creativity and Education at Bath Spa University.
‘We are collaborating on these workshops to bring interactive writers and the AI storytelling experts together. Like particles colliding, we believe new and amazing things will happen. We want people with experience in theatre, comics or gaming; writers who work in performing and telling stories in a range of ways, who can breathe new life into their characters and stories with AI.’ Bambo Soyinka
Centre for Cultural and Creative Industries
From historians to performers, writers to technologists, designers to educators, psychologists to artists, the Centre for Cultural and Creative Industries (CCCI) supports innovation across Bath Spa University. CCCI works across the College of Liberal Arts, the School of Art and Design, Bath Business School, and the Institute for Education, providing a home for scholars and practitioners whose research engages with the cultural and creative industries.
In tandem with that, CCCI also provides a conduit for the creative and cultural industries to engage with our research, facilitating dynamic pathways for knowledge exchange between the University and industry regionally, nationally, and internationally. Building on the University’s excellence in practice-based and creative research, the Centre links academic research, creative practice, and industry in developing commercial and cultural opportunities that directly benefit a broad community of interests now and in the future.
To Play For
Based in Oxford, To Play For is a creative technology company that develops interactive immersive stories on its proprietary AI-powered platform, Charisma.ai. Charisma.ai is a storytelling platform powered by AI to deliver immersive and realistic character-led experiences that drive measurable audience engagement by focusing on: Conversation, Context and Character. The platform enables the creation of virtual characters for TV, movies, games, and to power VR experiences. Their background in producing award-winning projects for international brands has given them unparalleled insights into how character-driven stories can drive audience engagement. As a result, the Charisma.ai platform combines all the elements that they know work – from traditional storytelling techniques and game design to advanced technologies (AI, NLP and Machine Learning) – to create interactive experiences that are unique, memorable and, most importantly, inspire audiences to come back again and again.
Bristol+Bath Creative R+D
Bristol+Bath Creative R+D is a new, £6.8 million collaboration that aims to raise the bar for the region’s creative industries. The five-year programme seeks to forge connections and partnerships in Bristol and Bath, sharing knowledge, creating crossovers and even greater opportunities in what’s already one of the most vibrant clusters in the UK. This first-of-a-kind collaboration between the region’s four universities, UWE Bristol, Bath Spa, the University of Bath and the University of Bristol – and digital creativity centre Watershed, intends to break down the doors, connecting the worlds of university research and creative business to develop a shared vision for tomorrow’s creative industries.