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Immersive Game Lab & Commission

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StoryFutures Academy: the National Centre for Immersive Storytelling, and InGAME (Innovation for Games and Media Enterprise) which supports the Dundee Games Cluster, are collaborating on an exciting new Game Lab and commission, aimed at supporting the development of the next generation of immersive, narrative-led games in the UK.

The Immersive Game Lab aims to upskill 12 writers and narrative designers from a variety of backgrounds to prepare them for working on narrative immersive videogames, and offers 3 game developers valuable narrative training, networking with a diverse set of talented writers, plus the chance to receive funding for the creation of a story-based immersive game slice to be showcased at a high profile UK games industry event. Applicants can apply to one of two open calls – the first is a national call for writers wanting to break into games or increase their skills in games writing, and the second is for developers from the Dundee Games Cluster wanting to be partnered with writers to explore ideas for narrative-led games. The Game Lab will be delivered by StoryFutures Academy and InGAME in Dundee, based on the highly successful StoryFutures Academy Writers Rooms led by Adam Ganz and run in partnership with theatre company Punchdrunk's charity, led by Director of Enrichment & CEO Peter Higgin.

Longlisted writers will undertake a fully-funded 2-day narrative workshop (March 31st to April 1st 2020) held at InGAME, Dundee, where they will explore immersive experiences, meet developers and expand their interactive writing skills. A shortlist of 3 teams will then be selected to undertake a 4-week paid scoping phase where the writer will co-design an idea for a narrative-led immersive game in collaboration with a games development studio from the Dundee cluster (for which both the writer and developer will be paid a fixed stipend of £2,500). Teams will then pitch these ideas to an expert panel who will select one idea to receive £50,000 of funding for a 12-week development period. The winning writer/developer team will also receive a program of user testing, audience insight and commercialisation support from InGAME, with the completed project being shown at a high profile UK games industry event.

Applications Now Closed

POSTPONED

In light of the growing concerns around Coronavirus (COVID-19), StoryFutures Academy has made the decision to postpone the Game Lab, in partnership with InGame, to a later date.

(Updated: 23 March, 2020)

Application Criteria


General Criteria

  • This lab is intended to encourage innovation in narrative-led games, enabled by immersive technologies. In this context, this includes virtual, augmented, and mixed reality and immersive sound technology.
  • Please note that this project is not intended for existing story or game ideas that are already in development. The intention is for new ideas to be developed collaboratively between the selected writers and developers, with a shared IP agreement between them (a template will be provided).
  • Please note that neither StoryFutures Academy or InGAME seek to retain any IP of the final piece, however both organisations require access to the final piece for educational, research or marketing purposes. This includes providing access to that will allow for StoryFutures Academy and InGAME to do meaningful audience insight research via qualitative or quantitative means. This insight may be shared or published for academic or training purposes.
  • Applicants and all team members must be 18+.
  • All applicants are expected to grant StoryFutures Academy the use of anonymised data related to the project in academic and industry-facing research publications.

Writer Criteria

1. Writers should be able to demonstrate a clear interest in or experience of writing for interactive. We are looking for experienced writers from any discipline, but we will look favourably on applicants who have experience of creating interactive work. This could be writing credits on released games titles, but games experience is not essential and self-published work in programs such as Twine or Ink, interactive theatre, interactive film or any other forms of interactive narrative would all be considered valuable, relevant experience.

12 writers will be selected to participate in the workshop, with 3 being shortlisted for the scoping phase and 1 being chosen for the final commission.

2. Applicants may be from anywhere within the UK.

3. Applicants must commit to engaging collaboratively with Game Lab project activities to include, at minimum:

  • Attending both full days of Game Lab workshops, plus the evening networking event, in Dundee on March 31stand April 1st 2020. Reasonable travel expenses will be reimbursed.
  • In the event of being paired with a development studio, undertaking regular production meetings (these may occur remotely, e.g. via Skype or conference call) during the 4-week scoping period
  • In the event of being paired with a development studio, contributing to the creation of a pitching deck and video presentation
  • In the event of receiving the commission, completing the necessary work on the narrative-led game by September 30th 2020
  • In the event of receiving the commission, contributing to audience testing sessions (this may occur remotely, e.g. via Skype or conference call)
  • In the event of receiving the commission, participating in a planning session for showcasing at a games industry event (this may occur remotely, e.g. via Skype or conference call)

Game Developer Criteria

1. Developers should be able to demonstrate their ability to deliver a prototype within the timescale and budget. Developers must be able to demonstrate their track record through a body of work and/or credits and/or demonstrable ability to drive a project through production to delivery. 3 developers will be selected to participate in the workshops and scoping phase, with one being selected for the commission.

2. Applications must be made by or through a company registered and centrally managed within the Dundee Creative Clusters area (City of Dundee and adjacent local authorities of Angus, Fife and Perth and Kinross).

3. Applicants must commit to engaging collaboratively with Game Labs project activities to include, at minimum:

  • At least one team member attending each day of the Game Labs workshops, plus the evening networking event, in Dundee on March 31st and April 1st 2020
  • At least one team member to provide feedback on ideas pitched by 12 writers to aid the shortlisting process
  • Undertaking regular production meetings (these may occur remotely, e.g. via Skype or conference call) during the 4-week scoping period
  • Contributing to the creation of a pitching deck and video presentation
  • In the event of receiving the commission, completing the necessary work on the narrative-led game by September 30th 2020
  • In the event of receiving the commission, contributing to audience testing sessions
  • In the event of receiving the commission, participating in a planning session for showcasing at a games industry event

Costs and Funding

  • StoryFutures Academy will cover accommodation and travel costs for writers to allow their full participation in the workshops. Any further travel costs (e.g. for follow-up meetings with developers) must be covered out of stipends or project budgets.
  • No travel or accommodation will be provided for developers due to their proximity to the workshop and event locations.
  • Stipends of £2,500 each will be paid to shortlisted writers and development companies for the 4-week scoping phase. This is a flat rate and it is up to the individuals to decide how much time they wish to commit to the project during the 4-week period, however all applicants will be expected to demonstrate value for money at this stage.
  • A project budget of £50,000 will be paid for the final selected writer and developer team.
  • This budget for the winning prototype is expected to be split appropriately between the writer and games developer. It is up to the individual teams to agree fair and reasonable terms, based on the scope of the work to be undertaken during this phase, and a fully costed budget will need to be provided. The winning project will be judged on the strength and deliverability of the idea, and also on the strength of the collaboration and value for money.
  • Please note the Development stipends and Prototype funding are treated as project grants, and no additional VAT is applicable.

Commitment to Diversity

StoryFutures Academy is committed to supporting storytellers from a range of diverse backgrounds to work with immersive technology. This includes a commitment to reach a minimum of 50% female and 20% BAME participants across our programmes. We will take a portfolio approach to applications, ensuring that across supported projects this target is met.

StoryFutures Academy is also committed to regional diversity, and aim wherever possible to represent a range of writers and narrative designers from across the UK within the cohort.

StoryFutures Academy is also committed to making its initiatives as accessible as possible. If you have a disability, or are yourself a carer, you are entitled to apply for a bursary to cover additional expenses related to these needs that you may incur as a result of applying for, or taking part in a StoryFutures Academy programme (such as special assistance arrangements). Please contact immersive@nfts.co.uk for more information.


Application Judging Process

Applications are judged by a panel of StoryFutures Academy and InGAME staff, however external specialists will also be consulted in some circumstances. All applications are treated in confidence.

StoryFutures Academy will take a portfolio approach to applications, and the judging process will look to ensure a variety of different expertise from both writers and developers.

Both writers and games developers will be selected based on their relevant experience, quality of work and appropriateness for the programme (i.e. that they have demonstrated a passion to explore immersive games and interactive storytelling, and that they are likely to benefit from taking part).

Deliverables for Writers accepted onto the programme

  • Writers who have completed the lab should submit a written pitch for a narrative-led immersive game (Unpaid)
  • 3 shortlisted writers will receive a stipend to produce a fully scoped idea for a narrative-led game created in partnership with a development studio and submitted in the form of a pitching deck and video presentation
  • One finalist will be paid to produce a complete polished prototype for a narrative-led game created in partnership with a development studio

Deliverables for Games Developers accepted onto the programme

  • Feedback on 12 immersive narrative game ideas to aid selection of final 3
  • A fully scoped idea for an immersive narrative-focussed game created in partnership with a writer and submitted in the form of a pitching deck and video presentation (to include budget, timescales and milestones)
  • (Finalist) A build of a complete polished prototype for an immersive narrative game created in partnership with a writer

Additional deliverables for finalists include:

  • A build of the immersive prototype or final piece in a format which can be previewed and used to conduct audience testing
  • A copy of the associated marketing/concept material generated for the project (e.g. trailer and promotional images)

Key dates

Pre-Production Phase

  • 24th February – Call closes
  • 9th March – Selected 12 writers and 3 developers notified
  • 31st March - 1st April – Game Lab Workshop for 12 writers, developers introduced during social event on 31st
  • 14th April – 12 writers submit paper proposals for narrative-led games

Scoping Phase

  • 26th April – Writers notified of shortlist and paired with developers
  • 4th May - 29th May – Developers and shortlisted writers scope ideas, submitting pitch deck and proposal video on 29th May
  • 8th June – Finalist selected, participants notified

Production Phase

  • 22nd June – Production commences
  • 30th September – Production complete
  • Mid October – Final piece showcase at a high profile games industry event