Meant to post a copy of this a few months ago, but things have been rather hectic as of late (lots of news to share soon!), but when Sally and Becca attended the Accenture outreach event in Dublin, they kindly produced some nifty summary leaflets for us.
Please feel free to print off copies for display/sharing!
Had to believe an entire year has passed, but the project team was really pleased to have the opportunity to bring Minecraft Day back to campus. Showcasing work and research tha utilises Minecraf in some manner, the event was made possible by the generous support of the Alumni Fund.
Tailored for a slightly smaller cohort this year, we were delighted to welcome star creator, project friend, and Litcraft partner (more to be announced on that very soon!) Adam Clarke - aka Wizard Keen. And what a great event it was to host (with the added bonus of James' work on a project mascot finally being completed!)
Litcraft trialled our latest release for the first time publicly - a Swiss Family Robinson and Robinson Crusoe double-build. With a real focus on using the maps creatively, and engaging with place-names and naming, this is our strongest release yet. We were delighted to see how well the kids engaged with it - both the reading and the gameplay.
Science hunters similarly ran a new resource, topically focused on coral reefs, their troubled state and regeneration strategies - very powerful lessons. Chris Dixon wowed the kids with a VR set up. And Adam introduced the kids to workshop grand design builds, resulting in some very interesting concepts, as shown below, as well as skin and texture design.
Every session ran smoothly, and by all accounts the kids had a great day - and we couldn't have asked for better behaviour. Of course, we couldn't not end the day with a little gift bag - complete with Lego Minecraft minifig and themed stationary (the teachers were just as excited as the kids, haha!).
Thank you to all involved in helping the day prove such a success - and prove why engagement is so important for research - Dr Dawn Stobbart, the helpers, and the teachers for taking the time and effort to be able to attend.
Co-I Ian Gregory introduced Sally and James to an exciting annual symposium of the Digital Geographies Research Group, held at the University of Birmingham - this year focused around VR and public engagement. The event was filled with a diverse range of talks, that covered all manner of applications, including the design of functional realtime city info dashboards, ethongraphies of abaondoned second life-esque worlds, procedural generation and artistic creativity, the 140 years of gamifying Around the World in 80 Days, combining AR, theatre, and escae room-like exeriences... such a variety.
We - of course - took Litcraft, and it was heartening to see quite a few people were already aware of us. Word is spreading!
Sally introduced, for the very first time, our next colloboration - with The Wordsworth Trust, focused around 'Spots of Time'. Hearking back to the original prototype that led to all this, Lakescraft, we cannot wait to unveil more about our plans, alongside two member of the Centre of Ecology and Hyrdology (always wonderful when unexpected collaborations come about) who have made a nicely-scaled and populated map of the Lake District. But more details soon!
In addition to the paper, the organisers kindly allowed us to run a workshop - and for once everyone was familiar with Minecraft (though a few parrots were still accidentally killed instead of tamed). Very encouraging, and some interested names taken for (hopefully) future contact.
We are very pleased to share that two more regional county library services have joined up with us to run Litcraft sessions - thanks to the tireless efforts of Chloe Reynolds and Daniel Clark. Joining the trio that have been rolling out Litcraft for nearly a year now (with excellent results, judging from the feedback dilligently collected by the admins) are Somerset and Devon - hoorays!
Sally and James were invited down to Taunton to run a training session for local staff, and despite the horrific weather were really happy to see so many people enthused about the project. It was a really fun session, with many of the participants having at least a little knowledge about Minecraft, but the extent to which everyone engaged with the lessons was a delight to behold. Especially as the genuine question 'why do I need these gold nuggets - I can't eat them!'. The exact sort of engagement we have striven for from the start. So keen are they, we will be sending an extra few boxes down to allow several sessions to run simultaneously. We are incredibly excited to see how things turn out, especially as it will complement the huge digital push planned by Libraries Unlimited nicely. And we are on track to hopefully announce even more partnerships soon...
Sally and James have just returned from an event organised by the StoryVR team at the National Museum of Science and Technology in Milan, whose aim was to bring a wide and international range of approaches to encouraging literary engagement through digital platforms together. Federico Pianzola graciously extended an invitation after seeing the Guardian article on Litcraft (two days after James made the revised videos, luckily enough!), and the initial workshop session was an in-depth trial of the team’s exciting build, which combines audiobooks, dynamic environmental backgrounds, and (optionally) on screen text. It is a fascinating concept, and every attendee identified a range of ways in which the concept could be adapted once the core model is released.
The presentation session was a novel experience for our team, as it was undertaken in a chat-show format – hosted by digital artist Arthur Clay, with excellent talks by Wayne de Fremery, Federico and Luca Deriu, and Natasa Milic-Frayling focused around transforming literature to provide new means of visual presentation.
The session was recorded (so we can hopefully provide a link shortly), but – as with all good events – the cohorts identified so many areas of potential future collaborations. It was an excellent session, followed by one of the best pizzas James has ever had (and that’s no small claim, from him!).
Our sincerest thanks to the StoryVR team once again, and we hope it will be the first of many such events on such an engaging area.