Panel 6: The Right to Roam: Interactivity and Participation in Digital Story Spaces

Henry Sutton
Claire Carroll
Roy Hanney
07 Jul 2023
11:50 - 12:45

Panel 6: The Right to Roam: Interactivity and Participation in Digital Story Spaces

6.01 – The City as Escape Room: place, participation, meaning, affect

Roy Hanney (Solent University)

Through the lens of ecologies of belonging The City as Escape Room transfers a simple and commonly held understanding of the escape room into a metaphor that reveals a complex layering of place, participation, and affect in meaning making for transmedia storytellers. It situates the city as a play space in which community participation, meaning making and co-creation are interwoven as meaningful story experiences. By mirroring the practice of urban foraging, the discussion explores transmedia storytelling as a form of sympoiesis that brings into being a shared memory, a becoming-with the city for the community that resides within. Avoiding the common placemaking tropes associated with public sector marketing and economic (re)generation, city-wide transmedia storytelling is instead considered as a form of speculative fabulation that can defamiliarise the familiar and generate affective story experiences. The offering of a case study that contrasts commercial, and community driven transmedia experiences further illuminates the ways in which immersive experience design can take hold of a city as a play space and render it as a meaningful story experience.

6.02 – Interactive for Whom?: Accessibility Challenges and Best Practices for IF Creators

Claire Carroll (University of Cambridge)

The best Interactive Fiction (IF) takes advantage of the possibilities and constraints of the medium to help readers/players form critical connections with the narratives and avatars. Many IF stories are self-published and available freely online, removing critical barriers to access for marginalized writers and readers.

However, the opportunities of these experimental narratives also generate massive accessibility issues. While accessibility is improving across digital spaces, with Alt text and screen reader support becoming standard practice, complicated IF mechanics generate massive accessibility issues. Creators generate specific multimedia experiences with technological requirements (e.g. headphones, webcams, enough CPU) and reader requirements (e.g. keyboard dexterity, vision) that exclude certain Disabled audiences and engagement.

Accessibility shouldn’t be a burden or an afterthought to IF development, but another driving force for creativity and innovation. This 6-minute lightning talk will highlight some key challenges for accessibility in IF and propose tools and practices to make projects more widely accessible. While the talk will be geared toward IF creators and practitioners, discussion from academics, curators, and theorists is highly encouraged.

6.03 – Literary Digital Futures

Henry Sutton (Literary Digital Futures)

This paper will analyse the results of UEA’s landmark Future and Form of Literature project (, and suggest possible ways forward for prose, poetry and script in collaboration with existing and emerging creative technologies.

Six writers (all award-winning UEA alumni) were paired with creative technologists from Mutiny Projects and Guildhall Live Events to interrogate literary writing and form, and to make accessible artworks for the general public, non-traditional and hard to reach audiences and communities. The works engaged augmented reality, sensor data, immersive technology and virtual reality. They are variously locative and interactive, as well as virtual (and still variously available online).

The writers’ creative journeys through the project and subsequent considerations are already shaping new forms. The creative technologists employed are reinterpreting and expanding their processes and collaborations.

Marcus Romer (director) –
Look at the technology we’re using now. So there’s something around the idea of: ‘let’s look at the tools that are available.’ And I think artists always will try, artists will always be curious and try to work at the things that are the limits of public and human understanding at the time.

Ayobami Adebayo (prose writer) –
I do think that working on the project has challenged me to rethink my process and to be a little more open in terms of how I’m going to approach subsequent things. I think the other thing it’s done for me, is it’s made me think a little bit more about gaining access and how. All the tools that are available can be used to disseminate a story.

Mona Arshi (poet) –
I feel as if I wrote them for this, for this project and that they live in this strange, place, which is partly word, partly my words, partly the digital, partly the soundscape and partly what Simon and his team have done to the work, which have made them a unique thing.