A book without borders: a hybrid of cinema, gaming, and text

Jessica McComish, BA English, Bournemouth University

In its fifth year, the New Media Writing Prize continues to recognise some of the best pieces of new media creativity. With its biggest shortlist ever and over 100 entries from all over the world, it’s clear that there is a great deal of interest surrounding this new form.

The big prize of the night went to Tender Claws (Samantha Gorman and Danny Cannizzaro) for their memory-bending app, “PRY”. The piece, built for the iPad, mixes together stunning visuals, text, sounds with interactive ways for the user to pinch, crunch, unfold, expand and “PRY” into the memories of the protagonist’s Gulf War experience.

Speaking on Skype at the awards, Gorman and Cannizzaro explained the project has been a long process with a great deal of work going into it over the past couple of years. In the last week the piece has been featured by Apple as one of the best apps which goes to show that this type of media is now stretching further and further.

While all the entries on the shortlist were excellent, the power and slick style of “PRY” stood out. The fact there were 10 shortlisted pieces says something truly positive about the quality of the entries in general. Runner-up Lyndee Prickitt’s “We Are Angry”, and Amira Hanafi’s “What I’m Wearing” both blended fact and fiction in interesting ways, while “Life of Fly” by Alan Bigelow used humour to great effect.

The Student Prize went to Herm Holland for “A Dream Within a Dream”, which was also shortlisted for the main prize. The carefully constructed, Poe-esque, narrative earned him a three month placement with Unicorn Training.

The clear winner of the People’s Choice Prize was Jason Nelson’s “Nothing You Have Done Deserves Such Praise”. With a staggering 560 votes, the judges said it was a highly engaging satire about games.

The awards were preceded by talks from two of the judges, both esteemed figures in the industry, María Mencía and Chris Meade displaying and discussing their own current and past work. The two portfolios of work were both extremely different. Mencía demonstrated the interactivity of language and communication with four of her own examples including the thought-provoking “Collected Memories”. Meade, of “If:Book”, showed how new media can be truly immersive and collaborative with his current project of “I nearly…”. These insights into the industry showed how broad this industry is and how much can be done with what is now available to us.

With so many fantastic pieces on display and such a variety of different ideas and stories being presented, where does this type of work stand? Does it count as literature? A hybrid? Or something of its making?

When the awards, run by Dr. James Pope of Bournemouth University, first started five years ago, the landscape of new media storytelling was very different. With both the development of technology and an increase in interest, it will certainly continue to grow and expand with innovative and exciting pieces every year. Technologies are ever changing and we are becoming increasingly technologically bi-lingual, so why not use it? María Mencía believes that different technologies inspire different thought processes and ways of reading, while Chris Meade added that “the app is the novel of new media”.

Meade, who has sponsored the event for the past five years, also suggested that there was a need for a breakthrough, a piece of work that people needed to experience. He told the Tender Claws duo that their app “could be it”. A promising claim and a great way to end a successful evening.

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