Archive: Charles Hunter, Co-founder & Managing Director

Half the Sky

Just back from India, where I”ve been on the discovery phase of Mudlark”s latest project, designing four mobile social impact games as part of the Half the Sky multi-platform project.

Half the Sky is already a best-selling book by Nick Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn, that tells stories of women in the developing world, stories that are by turns shocking and inspiring as they experience terrible deprivation and brutality and battle against them. The book suggests ways forward partly through these examples and also by laying out a series of actions and campaigns – political, moral, educational, medical, economic – that can not only improve the lot of females in these societies but the societies themselves.

Half The Sky is now extending out via a PBS special next year , a social action game on Facebook and a lot of work with NGOs, including the mobile games we are designing for , the executive producers of the Half The Sky transmedia material.

I spent a week in and around Delhi with Games For Change and Indian developers and distributors ZMQ, meeting, talking and – most vitally – listening with and to a variety of NGOs, as well as visiting various communities at whom the games might be aimed.

An Indian woman user her mobile phone.

We are designing for the very “established” Java, J2ME platform, because those are the sorts of phones you will find in these communities. Typically , there”s one mobile per family and it stays in the house , like a landline – in effect it is the landline. But everyone has some access to the key piece of technology and most of them are already playing games on their phones.

 

A goat.

The constraints of the platform are also the challenges. The same goes for the issues we want to express and “play” in the games – both during the trip and since my return we have been brainstorming ideas for games that will help pre-natal health, get parents to let their female children stay in school after the age of ten, improve girls” health so they can stay in education themselves, confront domestic abuse and even suggest the experience of enforced prostitution.

Children using a mobile phone.

We are looking at twitch, puzzlers, platformers, tower defence, simple simulations… We want great gameplay on small screen that doesn”t require a lot of text and gets the player to think and learn, but also, most importantly, engage. Although the subjects are clearly pretty serious, we never want the games to be called “Serious Games”. We plan to blog about the project as it develops so watch this space.

Good Night — Tweet Plinth

We rolled up to the Great Hall at Birmingham University for a night out with friends from Fish in A Bottle, Channel 4 and Screen West Midlands at the RTS Awards, but not expecting to win.

Our Such Tweet Sorrow project was nominated in the Best Digital Innovatiuon category along with inCahoots’ Weevee — a rather cool mashup archive service and Maverick’s digital dimension to their all-conquering Embarrassing Bodies strand .

Charles at the RTS Awards.

But we won – which enabled us to correct the programme note which had somehow omitted the Royal Shakespeare Company as our Production Partner and then to drink quite a lot of champagne.

On a personal note, I was most gratified to see the legend “Charles Hunter” engraved on the plinth/statuette… and no one else mentioned. OK – this was a misrepresentation and all the real key talent — Tim Wright, Richard Birkin, Toby, Bethan Marlow, Roxana etc etc have all been thanked and thanked again.

We are currently working out models and potential partners for our next Big Narrative .

And Fish In A Bottle won Best game too – so it was a happy happy table.

Award Nominations

Mudlark and the RSC’s Spring 2010 production of SuchTweet Sorrow has been recognised in nominations for the annual British Interactive Media Awards and the Royal Television Society awards.

Such Tweet Sorrow.

The online, real-time, contemporary version of Romeo and Juliet is listed in the Arts and Culture category of the BIMAs and the Digital Innovation section for the RTS (Midlands) .

Royal Television Society Awards.

Pervading Bristol

Last month day we were at the BBC Learning Unplugged Pervasive Media Lab Day in Bristol. The (slightly scary but very effective) frontman Ed Mitchell gives a good report here from a facilitator’s perspective. We nicked his photo too.

Spot the Mudlark (clue: green in the greenery)

Spot the Mudlark (clue: green in the greenery).

We pitched one of the ten ideas that got random-workshopped by other attendees and then speed-considered by the BBC army who were there. “Namester” won two champions in BBC Learning and we are now sorting out a more formal pitch.

Microtopynomy is the word- the names of small  places—fields, parts of forests, street corners, alleys, paths. These names hardly ever occur on maps and are just as rare on the Internet too. But they have been very useful to the people who used them and if unearthed they can be resonant and indeed useful again. Learning Unplugged folk saw the potential for local/oral history projects and also for a verbal mapping system that lets you tell a taxi driver which field to pick you up from after a countryside rave…

Watch this small place…

People seem to be listening to the man in green.

We can haz poetry

Unconnected with other work Mudlark is doing with the RSC, Charles Hunter entered the recent RSC As You Like It Twitter love poetry competition—140 characters #rsc—and has just learned that his entry won.

WOH HOO! (Guess who is writing this blog post??).

The poem will feature on the set of the As You Like It Production at Stratford .

Here it is laid out like a proper bit o’ poetry:

#rsc

I’ve disappeared into my love for you –

and you should either give me back

or join me here and lose yourself as well.