Department of Hidden Stories is a card-based and mobile phone app-based alternative reality game designed to transform the Library into a gaming space where children can use books as a resource for creating their own stories, narratives and sharing these with others. Stories are written down on paper, captured as a photograph on the phone, and then “hidden” in the books that inspired them for others with the same App to find in the future.
The game opens by alerting the player how characters from books in the library have become lost and that we need to work together in order to find them a new home. A character (e.g, a captain, a tiger, a princess) is randomly assigned and the player has to create some qualities of this character by finding a book where their stories begin. The app then takes the child playing the game through a series of “fortunate” and “unfortunate” events to help them develop their story before bringing it to a close after a specified period of time.
Designed specifically for Key Stage 2 students with low to medium English proficiency, the game aimed to engender increased interactions with books and motivate the children to write their own stories based upon prompts from bot the App and the books they picked up.
The game was developed in collaboration with Juliana Mesnah, Helen Limon, John Challis and Linda Anderson of Newcastle University’s School of English Literature, Language & Linguistics, Adam Clarke of The Common People and Newcastle City Council Libraries.