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. A revolution driven by artificial intelligence (AI).
Stories are being created where the audience becomes part of the narrative, where we can interact with characters who respond to us with their own distinct voices, emotions and memories, who make their own decisions.
In May, Paper Nations are joining The Centre for Cultural and Creative Industries, Bristol+Bath Creative R+D, and creative technology partners To Play For to host a fully-funded, two-day workshop in Bath that explores this revolution. We are looking for up to ten writers to take part. There is also the possibility for up to three of these writers to then undertake paid placements spanning five weeks with To Play For, who are based in Oxford.
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 AI Story Lab gives writers the chance to learn about creating character-driven stories with AI – both adapting existing works into interactive stories and creating original stories – 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. It’s interactive, it’s immersive, it’s non-linear and it’s the future.
Over the two days we will focus on:
- Adapting stories
- Creating stories
- Using AI
Who are we looking for?
First and foremost, storytellers. People who love stories in any form and may even have created their own, whether short stories, plays, graphic novels or games. We don’t expect you to be a technologist, but you must have basic computer skills and a keen interest in how we can use AI to create characters and develop stories. Don’t feel ‘That’s not my world,’ because this world is changing as quickly as the tech that drives it.
We want writers who have worked in any form of media that is interactive and/or immersive and/or non-linear. For example: theatre and immersive theatre, slam poetry, gaming, stand-up, comics and graphics novels, WEBTOON, Twine or similar online platforms. We don’t want to be too prescriptive, but we are looking for writers who may have worked in media that goes beyond linear, word-based stories and who ‘think differently.’ You might be a freelancer or employee working in one or more of these areas. But you might just as easily be a talented amateur who fills your spare hours creating stories, someone who could harness the power of tech to breathe new life into your stories, if you had the skills.
If this is you, we look forward to hearing from you. If you know someone you think is right for this opportunity, please pass the news along and/or share on social media.
Who can apply?
Applicants must be UK-based writers aged over 18 who live in the upper South West region of the UK (Somerset, Gloucestershire, South Gloucestershire or Wiltshire).
Applicants must identify as belonging to a group which is currently under-represented in the writing, publishing, gaming, and theatre industries. These include but are not limited to: women and non-binary writers, writers from black and ethnic minority backgrounds, working class writers, writers from areas of rural or coastal deprivation, writers who have experienced homelessness, writers who are refugees or asylum seekers, writers from LGBTQ+ communities, writers who have survived abuse, writers with disabilities, and writers with chronic health conditions.
To reduce barriers applicants might have in attending the two-day workshop in Bath, we have up to £100 available in our Access Fund for each of the ten writers selected. This money might be used to pay for travel costs such as train, bus or taxi fares, or to contribute to removing other barriers, such as childcare costs.
Applications close on Thursday 12th of March 2020 at midday. We aim to inform successful applicants by the first week in April.
Need more information?
Exceptions: The opportunity will not be open to staff of Bath Spa University, including casual staff and staff that have left employment in the last three years. Undergraduate and postgraduate students from under-represented backgrounds may apply. Please note that preference will be given to those who have fewer resources available to them.
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, 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 their 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.