A Deep Dive Into Play
Austin is about to become an R&D lab for interactive stories
By Robert Faires,
1:30PM, Wed. Oct. 5, 2016
Got a little time to spend learning about and taking part in interactive story experiences – the kind of immersive narratives where the participants help develop the story as it's happening? Good. There's one coming up in Austin, and the whole thing should only take you, oh, nine months.
There's a reason that New York-based improv adventurer and proponent of serious play Jeff Wirth is calling his upcoming story laboratory in Austin the Interactive Deep Dive. The lucky locals who join his artist/research team for the project will spend close to 40 weeks exploring and experimenting with the roles of performer, audience member, and technology in the creation of stories. They'll go way below the surface to investigate topics like scripting interactive performance, developing movement-based interactive, analog and digital puppetry, generating applications for interactive with artificial intelligence and new tech, and applying interactive in virtual reality and augmented reality systems. In addition, the artist/researchers will be: applying what they've learned in monthly "playtests," interactive experiences designed and produced for local community groups; leading workshops; sharing knowledge in meetings with industry leaders; and, at the end of the nine months, showcasing the team's work at a major national arts festival.
If it sounds like a full-time job, well, that's essentially what it is – not one that pays you a salary, unfortunately, but the skills and knowledge gained through the Deep Dive may well position you as a national leader in the field of interactive story and performance, which might be parlayed into some future compensation in industries involving, say, VR, gaming, or entertainment.
If this sounds like the project for you, don't worry about having to clear your schedule right away. The time frame for the Interactive Deep Dive is August 2017 to April 2018. But in the immediate future, you'll want to have 5:30pm to 7:30pm clear today, Wed., Oct. 5. That's when Wirth is holding a happy hour to provide a detailed introduction to his work and the Deep Dive. He'll be talking about the application process for joining the 10-member artist/research team, research partnerships for tech and business utilizing applied interactive story, and those playtests that select community organizations will take part in.
The Austin Creative Alliance and Imagine Art are co-sponsoring the Deep Dive Meet & Greet, which takes place at the Imagine Art Studios & Gallery, 2830 Real. For more information, visit the Interactive Playlab website.