31 October 2014
Last night was the award ceremony at Nottingham Contemporary art gallery for the Off the Map 2014 competition, a partnership project with GameCity and Crytek. Now in its second year, Off the Map challenges UK Higher Education students to make videogames based on British Library collection items using Crytek's CRYENGINE software. Furthermore, for 2014, the competition had a gothic theme to accompany the British Library's current exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination, which is open until Tuesday 20 January 2015 and is well worth a visit.
I've created a video, which you can see below, showing flythrough footage of last year's winning entry from Pudding Lane Productions, De Montfort University, Leicester. It also gives details of the 2014 gothic sub-themes and shows flythrough clips from this year's shortlisted entries.
The jury were impressed by the quality and creativity of the submitted entries, so there was passionate debate regarding the deciding the 2014 shortlist! The third winning entry was Team Shady Agents from University of South Wales in Newport with their Edgar Allan Poe inspired game Crimson Moon. The second winning entry was Team Flying Buttress from De Montfort University, who created a visually rich interpretation of Dracula's Whitby.
I was delighted that British Library Chief Executive Roly Keating announced the winning entry: Nix, this was created by Jackson Rolls-Gray, Sebastian Filby and Faye Allen from the University of South Wales. Using Oculus Rift, a revolutionary virtual reality headset for 3D gaming; it challenges players to reconstruct Fonthill Abbey via collecting hidden and moving glowing orbs in a spooky underwater world. You can see a flythrough of their game below:
My colleague Tim Pye, curator of Terror and Wonder and a member of this year's Off the Map jury, said: “The original architectural model of Fonthill Abbey is currently on display in Terror and Wonder. What is so impressive about the Nix game is the way in which it takes the stunning architecture of the Abbey, combines it with elements from its troubled history and infuses it all with a very ghostly air. The game succeeds in transforming William Beckford’s stupendously Gothic building into a magical, mysterious place reminiscent of the best Gothic novels.”
Nix also impressed fellow jury member Scott Fitzgerald, Crytek's CRYENGINE Sandbox Product Manager he said: “With the theme of Fonthill Abbey, the winning team took the fantasy route and twisted the story into something fresh and completely different. The mechanics used to progress through the game and the switching between the two realities make a very interesting experience for the player.”
I'd like to thank this year's jury members: Tim Pye, Tom Harper, Kim Blake and Scott Fitzgerald. I also want to thank all of this year's Off the Map participating teams, far from being a terror, it has been a delight to follow the students' work via their blogs and YouTube channels.
Plans are currently underway for the third competition: "Alice's Adventures Off the Map", which will be launched at the British Library on Monday 8 December 2014, at one of the Digital Research team's Digital Conversation events. If you would like to come along to find out more, book here.
Curator, Digital Research