LIVE UPDATES FROM LAMP VII: Story of the Future - Couran Cove, QUEENSLAND

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The residential lab began at Couran Cove on South Stadbroke Island on Wednesday 7th November 2007.

When we arrived at South Stradbroke Island the resort was cloaked in heavy rain but it did little to dampen spirits. A great bunch of creative teams and mentors assembled for the lab including international games writer Matt Costello.

The rain eased for long enough for everyone to play an exciting exploratory game put together by Gary Hayes and Jackie Turnure. Everyone got to know each other as they searched for game clues around the resort and a virtual copy of the lagoon that was built in Second Life. A major theme of the game was the impact of global warming and each team presented a story over dinner that was based on their experience of the game.

Thursday kicked of with a presentation by Peter Giles. Teams were asked to consider a range of new media business models and keep them in the back of their mind as they formed their creative propositions. Teams then went to their work areas and had their first meetings with mentors.

Matt Costello gave a compelling presentation which included storytelling, magic tricks and theatre. Everyone was gripped by his story of a shark encounter which demonstrated profoundly the relationship between fiction and real events. When Matt made a red scarf disappear in front of our eyes followed by a card trick we were not only entertained but thought about the difference between linear and interactive storytelling.

John Banks gave a great presentation about the role of social networking in games development. He talked about his research in this area and case studies which illustrated the challenges of professional games developers collaborating with their fan base in designing new games.

Mobile media expert Jennifer Wilson gave an information packed session on the future of the mobile media platform. Jennifer talked about the characteristics of Generation C - the native users of mobile media and social networks. The dominance of SMS and chat as primary form of communications for Gen C was one of the most illuminating aspects of her talk.

Friday's lab sessions started with an illuminating presentation by Marissa Cooke which detailed work she has done on a number of cutting edge interactive projects including Emmerdale Online. She talked about the importance of designing a user journey in any interactive service, tailoring story to the capabilities of particular media platforms and giving the audience a sense of ownership and involvement. She asked creative teams to put themselves in the shoes of audiences/users and to give them a job - or clear tasks to do.

Next up was Andrew Apostola who drew a distinction between online content propositions and creation of online platforms. He mentioned a range of successful platforms including Blip. Tv, Crackle, Gripper and He then profiled a series of successful online content creators who had built loyal communities online and achieved recognition, partners and investment. These included Lonelygirl15 and Kate Modern, Rocketboom, Ask a Ninja, Wallstrip, Basic Brewing and Afterworld.

Gary Hayes gave a compelling presentation about story environments in virtual worlds talking about his builds for Telstra, ABC, Multimedia Victoria and Physical TV. He also talked about cross-reality, the cross over of virtual worlds with broadcast television. Among many examples, included one he was involved in at the BBC more than 10 years ago, he detailed the recent CSI Second Life episode and described the virtual world experience of TV viewers driven from the broadcast episode to a virtual CSI:NY in Second Life. You can see the promo here.

Anthony Eden gave a presentation about the Hive project that he is working on which is designed to seed creative thought. He showed aspects of the gameplay in the project and talked about its design and implementation.

Jackie Turnure outlined a range of strategies to effectively pitch a user journey in an interactive service. She covered a range of pitching techniques and methods encouraging teams to find the jewel in their project and pitch it with passion.

Designer Catherine Gleeson outlined a range of interaction design strategies using case studies from her recent project Re-enchantment. She talked about the role of the designer in the collaborative creative process and about the rewards of cross diciplinary partnerships.