Public notebook

Storytelling with sound, Paul Bennun and Nick Ryan – Notes from The Story Part 4

Another perspective on storytelling came from game designer Paul Bennun and sound designer and composer Nick Ryan, who collaborated most recently on the intriguing iPhone game, Papa Sangre. They set out to discuss the “special relationship between sound and storytelling”.


Papa Sangre, if you haven’t seen is set in a pitch black underworld and you have to rely on navigating by sound – apparently about one in ten people just can’t get their head around it, but those who love it.

Entering the Palace of Bones from Papa Sangre on Vimeo.

For the technical-minded, Nick’s passion is for binaural recording, creating soundtracks which when listened to in headphones mimic how sound works in the real world (which is different to stereo – see Wikipedia for an explanation).

There were some really interesting discussions during the session, including ideas about creative an “navigational language of sound” for storytelling, which I’d like to hear more about.

One point which really struck me was when Nick reminded us just how hi-tech recorded sound was, how new it was – just a hundred years ago, as he put it, if you heard a sound you could be sure it was something happening nearby. Recorded sound allows us to separate time and location from the listening experience and

Nick also described a project for Macmillan publishers where he created an “audio enhanced” edition of a Ken Follett novel called Fall of Giants, which looks (sounds) really interesting – in the demo you hear sounds of the battlefield as the text is being read – I’d like to try that out.

Public notebook

Nerf gun as story engine: Mary Hamilton – Notes from The Story – Part 3

201102220628.jpg Continuing with notes on the The Story 2011 talks, I’m going to try and restrain myself to Cory Doctorow-cited five sentences. More or less, and these two don’t count… Popular champion of the talks was Mary Hamilton‘s talk about her Zombie LARP (Live Action Role Playing Game) and how the constraints and simplicity (compared with more complex, traditional LARPs) made the whole game a kind of story factory. Particularly pleasing was her use of Nerf guns on the audience (“As soon as you pick up a (Nerf) gun you become a protagonist”) throughout the talk and her charming stick-man slides (see below for the whole slide deck).The nub of her approach to story was this: “we create edge conditions so people can make their own stories.” She also described how they had formalised or made space for story telling after games (“frothing” as LARP participants call it).

201102220633.jpg I’m a great big scaredy cat when it comes to horror films, but I’d love to have a go – take a look at for yourself… Full notes on Mary’s talk are on her blog.Zombie LARP – a story machine