QUEENS GAME Artistic Research

(2018 – 2021) (part time, 88 actual weeks total)

Queens Game explores the potential of the computer as dramatic storytelling medium. Presenting authentic history through the lens of the medieval imagination, it aims to create something more than a game. Featuring a real medieval princess and a girl from the realm of King Arthur, innovative interactive dramaturgy offers an exciting ludo-narrative journey into the Middle Ages.

Interactive Storytelling: HiStoryGame research production supported by the Norwegian Artistic Research Programme https://diku.no/en/programmes/norwegian-artistic-research-programme/ and developed in collaboration with Snowcastle Games, Oslo https://www.snowcastlegames.com/

Original concept, story-architecture and first full draft scripts devised and written with support from the Norwegian Film Institute’s interactive development fund.

Queens Game title screen
Queens Game title screen

The year is 1363. Queen Margrete I (formerly Princess of Denmark) arrives at Akersborg – today’s Akershus fortress, Oslo – as the 10-year old bride of 23-year old King Håkon VI of Norway. Players explore, with Margrete, the virtual medieval royal stronghold - most of whose physical buildings no longer exist – and discover the stories hidden there. Little is known of Margrete’s actual childhood. This gamestory is an imaginative dramatization of her introduction to her new home.

Margrete arrives at Akersborg (1363) Scene concept painting by Wenche Hellekås
Margrete arrives at Akersborg (1363). Scene concept painting by Wenche Hellekås

The Queens Game studio laboratory prototype storygame brings together advanced film and interactive media storytelling research and 3D interactive games-development for entertainment, addressing engaging dramatic narrativity on the frontiers of film, animated musical, period drama and interactive game.

Storygamers
Storygamers

A story needs first and foremost to be intriguing and surprising; a game needs to be fun, challenging and engaging. Interactive narrativity in a games environment uses space/time differently from classical dramatic storytelling: instead of acts of varying length and action of varying intensity, it unfolds in episodes/scenes set in territory which takes more or less time to navigate at differing speeds. Can contemporary interactive technology support rich, explorable, spatially-organised, dramatic narrative storygame, set against an authentic historical background?

Story

On a winter’s night, not long before Christmas 1363, 10-year old Queen Margrete I of Norway, formerly Princess of Denmark, arrives at Akersborg castle, Oslo, by ship from Copenhagen - where she was married, in Spring, to 23-year old King Håkon VI of Norway. Margrete’s husband is away fighting - as he has been since their wedding day - along with her father and father-in law.

Margrete’s ship in the harbour below Akersborg castle, modelled by Sindre Lie
Margrete’s ship in the harbour below Akersborg castle, modelled by Sindre Lie

With Margrete, players explore her new home - the virtual medieval royal stronghold of Akersborg, now Akershus fortress, most of whose physical buildings no longer exist or are invisible beneath centuries of renovation.

Akersborg Castle Queens Game Unreal model
Akersborg Castle Queens Game Unreal model

In the game, Margrete discovers a cosy room where books are stored, once belonging to her new husband Håkon’s great grandmother, Eufemia (1280-1312), the first queen to live at Akersborg. Eufemia was famous for her book collection, which included stories, translated from French and German, of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

Margrete discovers the concealed way to the enchanted chess-room
Margrete discovers the concealed way to the enchanted chess-room

In a hidden place behind a tapestry in the bookroom, a dragon chess-piece - part of a set given to Margrete by her mother-in-law, Queen Blanka of Sweden - enables Margrete to travel through the wall-hanging depicting the land of King Arthur and Queen Gunvor into the bright, legendary story-realm itself.

Dragon chess-piece and chessboard modelled by Rafal Hanzl for Queens Game
Dragon chess-piece and chessboard modelled by Rafal Hanzl for Queens Game
Margrete passes through the wall-hanging in the chess-room into the Realm of the Round Table. Scene concept painting by Wenche Hellekås
Margrete passes through the wall-hanging in the chess-room into the Realm of the Round Table. Scene concept painting by Wenche Hellekås

Through the tapestry, the player-character becomes Lunete, who, on her twelfth birthday, instead of marrying her parents’ choice of husband, runs away to become minstrel to Queen Gunvor (Gunvor is the medieval Scandinavian version of Queen Guinevere’s name). Minstrelsy was a career open to women in the Middle Ages (Amt, 1993, p. 168; Coldwell, 1986, pp. 39-56), when music, song and dance were the most widespread and welcome forms of entertainment for all classes of society.

Lunete leaves her father’s castle on her twelfth birthday
Lunete leaves her father’s castle on her twelfth birthday
Lunete learns to earn her own living as a minstrel. Scene concept painting by Wenche Hellekås
Lunete learns to earn her own living as a minstrel. Scene concept painting by Wenche Hellekås

In the game, whatever Lunete discovers or learns in the enchanted realm of Arthur and Gunvor, Margrete brings back to her own world. The legendary kingdom provides Margrete with an escape from her child-queen duties; it also offers 21st-century players an engaging way-in to medieval history. This bright storyworld, already idealised in the chivalric tales of the Middle Ages, affords a contrast to Margrete’s actual Norway, recovering from the Black Death which killed over a third of its population

The enchanted realm of King Arthur and Queen Gunvor
The enchanted realm of King Arthur and Queen Gunvor - Sindre Lie
The enchanted realm of King Arthur and Queen Gunvor
Stone circle (realm of King Arthur and Queen Gunvor) - Wenche Hellekås, Sindre Lie

The Round Table is as popular in the 21st century as in 1303, when Queen Eufemia had its stories translated into Swedish for her daughter, Ingeborg (1301 - 1360), on her marriage, aged 11, to 30-year old Erik Magnusson (1282 – 1318), Duke of Södermannland, second son of King Magnus III of Sweden.

The round table – medieval manuscript reference and screenshot from Queens Game
The round table – medieval manuscript reference and screenshot from Queens Game. 3D model - Sindre Lie

Lunete can be seen as Margrete’s fantasy heroine: a 12-year old girl without royal duties, able to explore the world freely, to find her own path in life.

Lunete decides on adventure
Lunete decides on adventure

In the game, Lunete encounters a range of people who help her learn to think and act for herself with confidence.

The alehouse in Lunete’s world (Queens Game team)
The alehouse in Lunete’s world - Queens Game Team

Medieval Art and Medieval People

The enchanting game-fantasy-realm of Gunvor and Arthur is populated with buildings, props and characters as true as possible to authentic medieval manuscript illustrations, supplemented by archaeological sources. This immersive, explorable medieval world, whose original music, aesthetic and storytelling is inspired by the stories and arts of the Middle Ages, provides an evocative setting for Lunete’s adventures.

From medieval manuscript characters to 3D models – Wenche Hellekås
From medieval manuscript characters to 3D models – Wenche Hellekås
Transforming medieval manuscript illustration to game concept, then to rigged and animated 3D model – Wenche Hellekås, Sindre Majgren Uthaug, Rafal Hanzl
Transforming medieval manuscript illustration to game concept, then to rigged and animated 3D model – Wenche Hellekås, Sindre Majgren Uthaug, Rafal Hanzl
Medieval manuscript castle reference to 3D model castle - Sindre Lie
From medieval manuscript castle reference to 3D model castle - Sindre Lie

Without dramatizing incidents in Margrete’s life for which there is no real historical evidence, through Lunete’s Tale, the game offers players the opportunity to get to know characters who make up the fourteenth-century society Margrete has to learn to care for and lead; as well as what medieval people looked like, what they did and how they thought (Orme, 2003; Shahar, 1983; Power, 1924, 1975; Rowling, 1987).

Lunete’s world characters – concept art by Wenche Hellekås
Lunete’s world characters – concept art by Wenche Hellekås

It is not unusual to find no record of a royal girl’s childhood in the Middle Ages: for many, the date of their birth, and often their death, is unknown - only being mentioned, if they married, in relation to their wedding … always a political, family affair. In Margrete’s case, the fourteenth-century Latin Sjællandske Krønike [Zealand’s Chronicle] (Olsen,1981), which recorded events concerning her father, King Valdemar IV of Denmark, mentions Margrete’s birth in 1353, her betrothal, aged 6, to King Håkon VI of Norway in 1359 and her marriage to him in Copenhagen in 1363, aged 10.

    Book cover: Sjællandske Krønike
    Book cover: Sjællandske Krønike

    Swedish Mærta Ulvsdotter (in Danish ‘Merete Ulvsdatter’) was appointed by Margrete’s mother-in-law, Queen Blanka, as the new young Queen of Norway’s Head of Household at Akersborg; “a chronicle from Vadstena Cloister records that Merete Ulvsdatter brought up Margrete with her own daughter Ingegerd, and that they were ‘often whipped with the same rod’” (Etting, 2004, pp. 6-7). Mærta was the daughter of Birgitta Birgersdotter of Vadstena, who founded the Brigittine Religious Order and was later canonised. Ingegerd grew up to become Abbess of her grandmother’s cloister, where grown-up Queen Margrete often sought retreat from court life.

      Margrete & Ingegerd: manuscript to model - Wenche Hellekås (reference painting from original manuscript by Rafal Hanzl)
      Margrete & Ingegerd: manuscript to model - Wenche Hellekås (reference paintings from original manuscript by Rafal Hanzl)

      Storytelling Research

      Although Queens Game takes as its protagonist a real fourteenth-century princess, its primary research goal is to experiment with medieval verbal, musical and visual storytelling techniques and aesthetics, as a way to provide spontaneity and surprise which counteract mechanical, computer-handled narrativity (see Ryan, 2016). Sensitive dependence on initial conditions plus chance operations bring immediacy to the rule-based 3D-navigable gameworld, to make it an actor in the play (Wei, 2011). The 3D navigable environment is dynamic, expressive space, in the tradition of stage scenography and film set-design. The approach builds on Maureen Thomas’s earlier interactive work treating the computer as medium - not merely tool - to bring intangible cultural heritage to life (selected publications and production credits below).

      Wenche Hellekås develops the character of the Abbess
      Wenche Hellekås develops the character of the Abbess

      Oral-composition and dramatic storytelling-modes common in the middle-ages are intrinsically spatially-organised and non-linear, lending themselves naturally to computer-handled narrativity, which is not confined by the linear page-structure of books or the framing of the fixed screen or stage. The clear, colourful, dramatic art-style of medieval manuscript paintings, in which the Middle Ages represent themselves as they saw themselves, is well suited to animated video-game art. Queens Game translates this style into expressive 3D animation in keeping with medieval aesthetics, rather than using ‘realistic’ motion-captured performances. Hopefully, players leave the game with a strong impression of medieval art and culture, gathered consciously or unconsciously from the setting of the gameplay and storytelling.

      Medieval manuscript characters and settings (reference collage)
      Reference collage: medieval manuscript characters and settings – Maureen Thomas

      The approach also counterbalances fantastical neomedieval gameplay worlds, where girls dressed as boys fight with bow and sword, splashing their way through streams of blood. Queen Margrete’s policies in later life show her strong preference for diplomatic solutions over bloodshed (National Museum of Denmark, 1997).

      History

      Historically, when Margrete grew up, she reigned over one of the largest states in Europe. This consisted of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, most of today’s Finland, Iceland, Greenland, the Faroe Islands and the Western Isles of Scotland, combined at the Kalmar Union, which Margrete achieved in 1397 and ruled over until her death, aged 59, in 1412.

      The Kalmar Union: adapted from the map of Scandinavia by Claudius Clavus (1427) by Rafal Hanzl
      The Kalmar Union: adapted from the map of Scandinavia by Claudius Clavus (1427) by Rafal Hanzl

      The large state had the critical mass to counter the increasing power of the German Hansa League of sea-traders, whose monopolising might the kings of Denmark, Norway and Sweden had resisted with arms since before Margrete’s birth. This tense struggle with the Hansa League forms part of the background to Queens Game, seen through young Margrete‘s friendship with ship’s-boy, Eskil. Later, Queen Margrete succeeded in making a diplomatic treaty with the Hansa League and putting an end to armed conflict. Her unified realm lasted for two centuries.

      Eskil, the smugglers’ ship’s-boy: medieval manuscript inspiration, concept art and 3D model
      Eskil, the smugglers’ ship’s-boy: medieval manuscript inspiration, concept art and 3D model – Wenche Hellekås

      Queen Margrete later used privateers to boost her state’s economy. If it becomes possible to continue to develop the Queens Game gameworld and timeframe, Eskil will rise to be captain of his own vessel and help her.

      Medieval manuscript ship (reference painting - Rafal Hanzl) 3D ingame model - Sindre Lie
      Medieval manuscript ship (reference painting - Rafal Hanzl) 3D ingame model - Sindre Lie

      The issue of historical authenticity in entertainment games, as in novels, plays, TV series and films, is hotly debated. Can we ever picture another era unfiltered through contemporary sensibilities (Lorber & Zimmerman, 2020)? Should we even try? Or is it legitimate to bring history to life through characters we have often to guess at and actions we have to interpret from a distance? Games in a medieval-like setting are popular - sometimes adopting an ‘alternative history’ slant, where players can design ‘what if’ scenarios - for example: Grand Ages: Medieval (Gaming Minds/Kalypso 2015). These and other games set in an undefined ‘Middle Ages’ tend to play out in a ‘neomedieval’ world (Brandenburg, 2020), where props, buildings and costumes may owe as much or more to Disney and Hollywood’s imaginative interpretations as to careful research; and where historical reference is quite often not, strictly speaking, ‘correct’ (Granström, 2013).

      This neomedievalism is reflected in the asset-packs of props available off-the-virtual-shelf for rapid-prototyping projects in the Unreal Game Engine. Given that the timeframe for the Queens Game project (20 months) permitted only of developing a prototype pilot, the team was obliged to use some off-the-shelf modular building elements and props to create parts of the virtual environment. Anachronistic items and neomedieval inventions were replaced with original 3D-models designed by the team, based on medieval manuscript reference and surviving period artefacts.

      14th-century hanaper (above) 3D model by Sindre Lie; aquamanile (below) 3D model by Wenche Hellekås; medieval tiles by Rafal Hanzl; reference paintings from original artefacts by Rafal Hanzl
      14th-century hanaper (above) 3D model by Sindre Lie; aquamanile (below) 3D model by Wenche Hellekås; medieval tiles by Rafal Hanzl; reference paintings from original artefacts by Rafal Hanzl

      In order to model as accurately as possible the virtual 14th-century castle of Akersborg - Margrete’s home until she was 22 – which in real life has been modified, burnt, rebuilt, remodelled and renovated over the centuries until little of its medieval character is visible on site - Queens Game drew on Akershus Museum’s expertise, including the most up to date scholarship. An architecturally accurate forensic model was created for the project by metrowave, Cambridge.

      Forensic historical architectural 3D computer model – Amir Soltani, metrowave
      Forensic historical architectural 3D computer model – Amir Soltani, metrowave
      Akersborg Castle – historically accurate architectural model to Unreal environment - Rafal Hanzl, Sindre Lie
      Akersborg Castle – historically accurate architectural model to Unreal environment - Rafal Hanzl, Sindre Lie

      The team then transposed this forensic architectural 3D virtual model into the Unreal game engine (UE4) and gave it, as nearly as possible, the appearance it would have had in the fourteenth century, including period furnishings and goods; populating it with the kind of people likely to have been familiar to Margrete.

      Margrete explores the Inner Ward at Akersborg Castle
      Margrete explores the Inner Ward at Akersborg Castle
      Photography of Akershus medieval walls translated to texture in Unreal – Rafal Hanzl
      Photography of Akershus medieval walls translated to texture in Unreal – Rafal Hanzl
      Textured wall inside Unreal model
      Textured wall inside Unreal model
      Inner Ward, Akershus Castle – Sindre Lie; NPC models - Sindre Majgren Uthaug; rigged, textured & animated by Rafal Hanzl
      Inner Ward, Akershus Castle – Sindre Lie; NPC models - Sindre Majgren Uthaug; rigged, textured & animated by Rafal Hanzl
      Akersborg kitchen - Queens Game Team
      Akersborg kitchen - Queens Game Team

      Staying in the storygame – who is most likely to enjoy Queens Game?

      In Queens Game, the player-character remains in the player’s control, so the drama unfolds in real time, with only the minimal use of extremely short animated pre-set ‘cut-scenes’, integrated fully into the narration - mainly showing non-player characters (NPC’s) responding to player action. This approach promotes a close and engaging relationship between player, character and story, while original music and songs provide emotional depth.

      Lunete meets the Wild Herdsman. Scene concept painting by Wenche Hellekås
      Lunete meets the Wild Herdsman. Scene concept painting by Wenche Hellekås

      Who is most likely to enjoy this innovative HiStoryGame?

      Gameplay analysis suggests that while the top three activities in games played mainly by males are attack and defend (combat), maneuver and steer and tactics and planning, none of which is present in Queens Game, the top three activities for female players, who “want to make creative choices”, are puzzle solving, gathering, build and design (Brune, 2021), atmospheric exploration and interactive drama (Campbell, 2017) - which are fundamental to Queens Game.

      Brie Code, previously an AI programmer at game-developers Ubisoft and Relic Entertainment, set up TRULUV Studios, Canada, in 2016, because, an avid gamer herself, she wanted to make games for people “who don’t like video games” – mainly female; who “think video games lack depth” and that from games they “don't learn anything or change as a person" - or were “just flat out repulsed by video games. Few women, for example, are going to play a video game with terrible portrayals of women”. Code found these unconvinced players were irritated by “failing at things [they] didn't care about in the first place” and put off by the fact that “they don't find their own cultural references or interests in video games” (Code, 2016).

      Enjoying the storygame
      Enjoying the storygame

      Like Code, Queens Game would like to engage people who don’t like video games (as well as those who do) and girls who don’t usually find their own interests reflected in games. Queens Game is not adrenaline-driven; no-one gets shot or tortured or hacked to death; and it does not offer rewards or prizes for speed, competition, violence or successful combat. Instead it affords a kind of ‘slow play’, providing musical, aesthetic and cultural story-rewards through atmospheric exploration - facilitating reflection and contemplation underpinned by the storytelling and gameplay. Experience points can be gained for creativity, kindness and collaboration as well as courage and confidence; you can collect songs and music - rather than weapons or material possessions - and the emphasis is on exploration and discovery.

      The stereotyped portrayal of women and girls in video-games, where even the most apparently proactive and dynamic females have a tendency to wilt into damsels in distress in need of rescue by a male player-character, is well attested (Sarkeesian, 2013). In Queen’s Game, Lunete rescues herself and others finding her own way in the world and setting game-Margrete an example which real-life Margrete’s later policies suggest would have resonated with her.

      Lunete plays and sings in Gunvor’s Hall - scene concept painting by Wenche Hellekås
      Lunete plays and sings in Gunvor’s Hall - scene concept painting by Wenche Hellekås

      More scholars have examined the role and perception of female protagonists in film, with a view to transforming these (Mulvey, 2019; Jacey, 2010; Murdock,1990), than in game - although Feminist Frequency (https://feministfrequency.com/series/tropes-vs-women-in-video-games/) actively continues to analyze and critique game role-stereotyping (see also Thomas, 2009).

      The convention in neomedieval games, whereby active female protagonists adopt male behaviours - particularly fighting - and do not wear skirts, are sometimes driven by the fact that a female protagonist model is actually an original male default model, literally dressed up in a wig and a feminized version of men’s clothing emphasizing bust, waist and hips. It is also true that long skirts, or indeed any skirts, are notoriously tricky to animate convincingly on an active player-character. Not many ready-made female models or off-the-peg animations exist, and those that do are frequently capable only of a hip-swinging catwalk swagger or of lounging seductively (see e.g. https://www.mixamo.com/#/ ). The Unreal Engine default player-character is a sturdy, male, robot-like, stormtrooper type - however you clothe it, it moves like a sturdy, male, robot stormtrooper-like character. Making a prototype with a male protagonist is easier than making one with a female protagonist, who behaves like a woman (as seen by women). The player characters and main non-player characters (NPC’s) in Queens Game are all designed and animated from scratch by a female artist, their costumes and demeanour based on 14th-century manuscript illustrations.

      Mærta, Alewife, Spinner – 3D character-models by Wenche Hellekås
      Mærta, Alewife, Spinner – 3D character-models by Wenche Hellekås

      Queens Game - built, not on frustrating combats and violence, but on atmospheric exploration, interactive drama, gathering and creativity - also uses techniques from stage and screen, such as character-based dialogue and unfolding relationships, music and song, to enrich emotional identification and dramatic effect.

      The main player-character is a real historical princess, child bride and queen, who found her own way to innovative leadership. Margrete was a good chess-player - her chess set survives - and history shows that, as a strategist, she always preferred diplomatic and creative, rather than warlike, policies (Etting, 2004; Haug, 2000; Kjesrud & Løkka, 2017). The characters, challenges and outlooks game-Margrete (in the person of Lunete in the fantasy world of the Round Table) encounters in Queens Game, playfully prepare a girl to handle the role of a woman - not a man in woman’s clothing – who has both responsibilities and authority, at home in her castle of Akersborg.

      Many girls, and women, today will hopefully find themselves recognising and responding to Margrete’s feelings and actions. To those who don’t usually see their own experiences reflected in games, or who feel excluded by their adrenaline-driven ethos but nonetheless enjoy interactive, explorable storygame, Queens Game will, it is hoped, prove intriguing, fun and engaging. Its incorporation of chance operations and reconfigurable, spatially-organised narrativity aims to make it surprising however often it is played by those who fall under the spell of its medieval world, its music and its characters.

      Project Development Process

      The Queens Game studio laboratory pilot research production was developed in four phases. The first, from January 2019 – May 2019, was carried out by dedicated BA-level interns from the game design course at Westerdals Kristiania University at Snowcastle Games, Oslo, who worked on characters, environment, gameplay and storytelling. Then came the architectural modelling of Akersborg castle in consultation with Akershus Museum, and experimenting with player characters and dialogue at Snowcastle Games. After that, the Queens Game project team, based at the Norwegian Film School’s graduate campus in Oslo, developed the environment, characters, action, dialogue scenes and gameplay iteratively, with consultation from Snowcastle Games. The whole project took 80 actual weeks across 3 years.

      Pyramid model of project development process
      Pyramid model of project development process

      Augmented Reality

      The Queens Game project, in addition to creating a prototype pilot video storygame, explores the potential of an on-site Augmented Reality experience at Akershus Castle, incorporating research and some assets from developing the game. The team identified the ic3D stereoscopic viewer as a good, convenient device for viewing recorded ingame footage, providing instant time-travel by enabling visitors to see, from within the locations themselves at present-day Akershus fortress, Oslo, the rooms and courtyards of the virtual castle of Akersborg as it was in the fourteenth century. No other interaction device – such as tablet, smartphone, headset or goggles – is necessary for an AR experience using the ic3D viewer. It offers instant, situated, hands-free immersion in the colourful and dynamic animated world of the past (Interaktive Oplivelser, Denmark: https://makemefeel.dk/ ).

      Ic3D stereoscopic viewer inside present-day Great Hall at Akershus castle, with insert of 3D Queens Game footage of the Hall in 1363, as seen through viewer
      Ic3D stereoscopic viewer inside present-day Great Hall at Akershus castle, with insert of 3D Queens Game footage of the Hall in 1363, as seen through viewer

      REFERENCES

      • Amt, E. (1993). Women’s lives in medieval Europe. Routledge.
      • Brandenburg, A. (2020). If it’s a fantasy world, why bother making it realistic? – Constructing and Debating the Middle Ages of The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt. In Lorber, M. & Zimmermann, F. (Ed.). History in games: contingencies of an authentic past (pp. 201-220). Transcript Verlag.
      • Brune, M. (2021). Zooming in on female gamers with consumer insights data. Newzoo March 31, 2021. https://newzoo.com/insights/articles/zooming-in-on-female-gamers-with-consumer-insights-data/.
      • Campbell, C. (2017, Jan 20). Which games are women and girls playing? Polygon. https://www.polygon.com/2017/1/20/14337282/games-for-women-and-girls.
      • Code, B. (2016). Video games are boring. GameIndustryBiz, 07 December. https://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2016-11-07-video-games-are-boring.
      • Coldwell, M. (1986). Jougleresses and trobairitz: secular musicians in medieval France. In Bowers, J. & Tick, J. (Ed.). (1986). Women making music: The western art tradition (pp. 39 – 61). University of Illinois Press.
      • Etting, V. (2004). Queen Margrete I (1353-1412) and the founding of the Nordic Union. Brill.
      • Feminist Frequency (n.d.). Conversations with pop culture. https://feministfrequency.com/.
      • Granström, H. (2013). Elements in games for virtual heritage applications [Master Degree Project in Informatics Dissertation, University of Skövde]. http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:627227/FULLTEXT01.pdf.
      • Jacey, H. (2010). The woman in the story. Michael Wiese Productions.
      • Haug, E. (2000). Margrete, den siste dronning in Sverreætten. Cappelen Damm.
      • Kjesrud, K. & Løkka, N. (2017). Dronningen i vikingtid og middelalder. Scandinavian Academic Press.
      • Lorber, M. & Zimmerman, F. (Ed.), (2020). History in games: contingencies of an authentic past. Transcript Verlag.
      • Medieval Institute Publications at Western Michigan University Journal: Medieval people: social bonds, kinship and networks. (n.d.) (ISSN 2690-8182; eISSN 2690-8190).
      • Mulvey, L. (2019). Afterimages: on cinema, women and changing times. Reaktion Books.
      • Murdock, M. (1990). The heroine’s journey. Shambala.
      • National Museum of Denmark. (1997). Margrete I regent of the North: The Kalmar Union 600 years. Nordisk Ministerråd/Nationalmuseet.
      • Olsen, R. (Ed. & translated into Danish) (1981) Sjællandske Krønike. Wormianum.
      • Orme, N. (2003). Medieval children. Yale University Press.
      • Power, E. (2013) [1924]. Medieval people. Tredition.
      • (1995)[1975]. Medieval women. Cambridge University Press.
      • Rowling, M. (1987). Everyday life in medieval times. Dorset Press.
      • Ryan, Marie Laure. (2016). Narrative as virtual reality 2: revisiting immersion and interactivity in literature and electronic media. Johns Hopkins University Press.
      • Sarkeesian, A. (2013). Tropes vs women in video games. https://feministfrequency.com/video-series/.
      • Shahar, S. (1983). The fourth estate. Methuen.
      • Thomas, M. (2009). Taking a chance on losing yourself in the game. Digital Creativity, 20:4, 211–234 (Special Issue: Women in Games).
      • Wei, Huaxin. 2011. Analyzing the game narrative: structure and technique. Vancouver: Simon Fraser University. PhD Thesis. https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Analyzing-the-game-narrative%3A-structure-and-Wei/94f184c9467c4fa8572b2c5e0add76c94df91a7f.

      Dissemination

      Forms of the cinematic
      Forms of the cinematic

      Publication:

      Thomas, M. (2021). Cinematic forms and cultural heritage’, pp. 122 -141 in Breeze, M. (Ed.). Forms of the cinematic. London: Bloomsbury Press. https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/forms-of-the-cinematic-9781501361425/

      Presentations:

      Final presentation-schedule 2022 under review owing to changing covid 19 regulations

      • PKU Artistic Research Forum (online) 16 March 2022 Professor Maureen Thomas (Norwegian Film School) Interactive Storytelling: HiStoryGame - Queens Game. https://diku.no/en/events/artistic-research-spring-forum-2022
      • Artistic Research Café (Norwegian Film School and Norwegian Film Institute Lab), Norwegian Film School Oslo (Online), March 2021 Professor Maureen Thomas (Norwegian Film School) & Game Developer and Director Bendik Stang (Snowcastle Games Oslo) in conversation: How can artistic research at a film school and professional practice at a games development/production studio benefit each other? Queens Game.
      • Norwegian Artistic Research Forum, Norwegian Film School, Lillehammer September 2019 Maureen Thomas (Norwegian Film School) presents and Bendik Stang (Snow Castle) demonstrates Second pre-production prototype: June - September 2019 https://diku.no/arrangementer/artistic-research-autumn-forum-2019
      • Artistic Research Café March 2019 Maureen Thomas presents Initial pre-production experimental prototype: January – May 2019 work achieved and in progress https://www.nfi.no/kalender/artistic-research-cafe
      • Artistic Research Café (Norwegian Film School and Norwegian Film Institute Lab), Norwegian Film School Oslo, October 2018 Maureen Thomas presents Proposed project
      • https://www.filmskolen.no/artikler/2018/ar-cafe-1

      Queens Game Core Team

      Principal Investigator: Professor Maureen Thomas (research, story architecture, dramaturgy, dialogue, direction)
      Senior Research Associate: Dr Rafal Hanzl (PhD, Polish Film School, Lodz; Norwegian Artistic Research Programme Fellow (completed), Norwegian Film School) (3D sculpting, 3D model-rigging, 2D-animation, panoramic site photography, video editing, Perforce management, web-design, creative technology research)

      Creative Practice Research Assistants:
      Kariina Gretere (MA Music Therapy, Roehampton University, London; MMus Composing for New Media, London College of Music and Media; BA (Hons) Humanities with Music, Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts/Open University UK) (music and sound)
      Wenche Hellekås (MFA Animation Storytelling, Norwegian Film School; BA 3D Animation, the Gameschool, Hamar) (concept art, 3D character art, modelling and animation)
      Sindre Lie (BA Game Design, Vocational Diploma 3D & Animation, Westerdals Kristiania University College) (3D art, environment design)
      Amir Soltani (BSc Computer Science University of Tabriz; PhD candidate, Dept of Architecture, University of Cambridge; Director, metrowave) (historical architectural modelling)
      Emil Walseth (Noroff University College Bergen (2020 – present) 3D and Animation; Game Development; Åsane Folkehøgskole: Game Development (2020) (Unreal programming)
      Iðunn Ágústsdóttir (BA New Media Music Composition, Iceland University of the Arts) (audio)

      Special thanks to:
      Ann Iren Bratt (financial management, co-ordination and support, Den norske filmskolen)
      Tom Andersen (architectural & cultural history, Akershus Fortress Museum)
      Christian Fremming Olsen (technical art – player-character model rigging)
      Christopher Hobbs (design - chess pieces)
      Interaktive Oplevelser ApS (ic3d stereoscopic viewer)

      For Snowcastle Games A/S Oslo:
      Erik Hoftun (producer)
      Nikola Kuresevic (games design)
      Theo Nogueira (audio)
      Bendik Stang (games design)
      Fredrik Tyskerud (initial player-character modelling)

      Snow Castle interns from Westerdals Kristiania University College, Oslo (2019):
      Alexander Espeseth (project management)
      Terje Ballestad (game design)
      Erik Holst (sound)
      Sindre Lie (3D art, environment)
      Sindre Majgren Uthaug (3D art, character models)
      Matthias Tellefsen (programming)
      Rolf Jackob Thommesen (3D art, rigging, animation)

      About Professor Maureen Thomas

      Professor Maureen Thomas has integrated her love of medieval literature, drama and oral tradition into much of her creative work since graduating from the University of Cambridge, where she read English Literature and Drama with Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic. A Dame Bertha Phillpotts Bursary enabled her to carry out research at the Institute of Icelandic Studies, Reykjavik on myth as drama and the chivalric legends in Old Norse/Icelandic, before becoming a tutor and research fellow at University College London’s Dept of Scandinavian Studies. In parallel, while working as a dramatist and director (and script-reader for Channel Four Films), Professor Maureen was a tutor in Screenwriting and Screen Arts at the National Film and Television School UK, also developing and guiding film, TV, animation and documentary projects; she became Head of Screen Arts in 1994. In 2000, after working with Norsk Film and Statens Studiesenter for Film, Oslo, Professor Maureen was appointed Professor of Narrativity and Interactivity at the Norwegian Film School, where, since 2018, she has been a senior researcher and research advisor. She is now Professor Emeritus.

      Selected production credits

      • Homo Novus. 2018. [Screenwriter] (feature film adaptation of Anšlavs Eglītis Latvian novel) Director Anna Viduleja. Production: Film Angels. National Film Centre of Latvia Centenary Prize for Screen Adaptation (script); most-viewed centenary film - Rigas Nami Award; Latvian Film Prize. (Teaser: https://vimeo.com/251614479; Trailer: https://vimeo.com/280358531).
      • WE. 2016. [Writer/Director] (integrated media ‘total theatre’ performance) with Studio for Electronic Theatre (www.setlab.eu), Roundhouse & Camden People’s Theatre, London.
      • Marvellous Transformations. 2015. [Dramatist, Lyricist and Reconfigurable-voicescript Writer/Director] (installation – digital 3D art by Marianne Selsjord, supported by the Norwegian Arts Council; music by Kariina Gretere) (Jock Colville Hall, Cambridge).
      • GhostCinema. 2013. [Story-architect, Director, co-Writer] (interactive locative Apple App) Production: Universities of Cambridge, Liverpool and Edinburgh in partnership with the Survey of London at English Heritage (AHRC-funded).
      • Viking Seeress. 2010. [Story-architect, Writer, Director] (live integrated media performance using realtime navigable 3D ‘set’ on stage) with performers Kariina Gretere, Helen McGregor; designer Marianne Selsjord (MIST, Cambridge).
      • RuneCast. 2007. [Interactive Story-architect, Writer, Director] (interactive cross-platform RT3DVE & video cultural heritage media art – installation and broadband for smartphone). Spatially-organised aleatoric dramatic & musical narrative based on Viking mythology and aesthetics (EU IP funded).
      • In Norway:
        Aldri mer 13 (Goodbye 13). 1996. [Screenwriter with director Sirin Eide] (feature film). Production: Moviemakers. LUCAS Award for Best Film, Frankfurt International Festival 1996, and Best Film Award, Antwerp International Film Festival 1997.

      Maureen’s creative practice research and teaching at Higher Education Institutions (incorporating doctoral supervision/examination) includes: University of Cambridge; University College, London; Narrativity Studio, Swedish Interactive Institute, Malmø; Media Lab, Aalto University, Helsinki; Digital Studios, Goldsmiths University of London; Dept of Art, Design & Architecture, University of Ulster; Welsh Film School, University of South Wales; National Film & Television School, UK (former Head of Screen Arts and Chair, Academic Standards Committee).

      Selected publications

      • Thomas, M. 2021. Cinematic forms and cultural heritage, pp. 122 -141 in Breeze, M. (ed). Forms of the cinematic. Bloomsbury Press.
      • Speed, C., Thomas, M. & Barker, C. 2017. Ghost Cinema app: temporal ubiquity and the condition of being in everytime, pp. 313-336 in Penz, F. & Koeck, R. (ed). Cinematic urban geographies. Palgrave Macmillan.
      • Prager, P., Thomas, M. & Selsjord, M. 2015. Transposing, transforming and transcending tradition in creative digital media, pp. 141-199 in Harrison, D. (ed). Handbook of research on digital media and creative technologies. IGI Global.
      • Thomas, M., Selsjord, M, & Zimmer, R. 2011. Museum or mausoleum? Electronic shock therapy, pp 10 – 35 in Lytras, Damiani, Diaz & Ordonez De Pablos (ed). Digital culture and e-tourism: technologies, applications and management. IGI Global.
      • Thomas, M. 2009. Taking a chance on losing yourself in the game’. Digital creativity, 20:4, 211–234 (Special Issue: Women in Games).
      • Thomas, M. 2005
        (i). Playing with chance and choice – orality, narrativity and cinematic media, pp. 371-442 in Bushoff, B. (ed.). Developing interactive narrative content: sagas/sagasnet. High Text.
        (ii). The power of narrative: 2D, 3D, 4D', pp. 51-76 in Blackwell, A. & MacKay, D. (ed). Power. Cambridge University Press.
      • Thomas, M. 2003. Beyond digitality: cinema, console games and screen language – the spatial organisation of narrative, pp. 51 – 134 in Thomas, M. & Penz. F. (ed). Architectures of illusion. Intellect.

      Web layout and implementation: Rafal Hanzl. Last updated 18 January 2022.

      Maureen Thomas fix 6text