Queens Game Prosjektprogrammet

The Queens Game project (2018 – 2021) is led by Senior Creative Practice Researcher Professor Maureen Thomas - dramatist, screenwriter, and story-architect.

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Funding: The Norwegian Artistic Research Project Programme.
Project developed in collaboration with: Snow Castle Games

HiStoryGame

The year 1363. Queen Margrete I (formerly Princess of Denmark) arrives at Akersborg – today’s Akershus festning, 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.

Amir Soltani’s first virtual architectural model of medieval Akersborg
Medieval Akersborg accurate architectural virtual model Medieval Akersborg Inner Ward (South) (Amir Soltani 2019)

In the game, the legendary realm of King Arthur provides Margrete with an escape from her child-queen duties; it also offers 21st-century players an engaging way in to real medieval history. This bright, idealised realm provides a contrast to Margrete’s actual Norway, recovering from the Black Death which killed over a third of its population.

The Round Table is as popular in the 21st century as in 1303, when the first queen to live at Akershus, Eufemia, had stories translated from French and German into Swedish for her daughter, Ingeborg, on her marriage to Duke Magnus of Sweden. 'Queens Game' tells the new tale of Lunete, who - in contrast to Margrete - on her twelfth birthday, rather than marry her father’s choice of husband, runs away.
Lunete encounters a range of people and overcomes a variety of challenges as she learns to think for herself and be independent. Lunete’s discoveries will help Margrete succeed as a medieval queen in a man’s world.

Engaged at age six, Margrete started as a pawn in her father and father-in-law’s game of Scandinavian politics; but she crossed the chessboard successfully, to become queen over a unified Norway, Denmark and Sweden, where she reigned until her death in 1412.

'Queens Game' does not attempt to reconstruct history, but to offer an engaging interactive game which at the same time provides an active child’s-eye view of life in the Middle Ages, with well-researched background reference to 14th century Norway

Kariina Gretere works on music for Lunete’s Tale
Wenche Hellekås with Lunete's Tale character concepts

Dramaturgical Research

Queens Game transposes and transcends traditional excellences, to stage dramatic storytelling within the computer-games world, iteratively trialing new dramaturgies. The medium is a strong part of its message - combining medieval narrative and musical modes, and the aesthetic of manuscript painting, with innovative games design.

Left: Codex Manesse 14th-century manuscript illustration Right: Margrete player-character model (Eric Brear, Snow Castle/ Wenche Hellekås)

Oral-composition and dramatic storytelling-techniques 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. Sensitive dependence on initial conditions plus chance operations bring immediacy to the computer-handled, rule-based 3D-navigable world, making it a dynamic actor in the play.

Expressively-animated non-player characters (NPC’s) and original reconfigurable music and songs provide emotional depth, and, with the player-character always in the player’s control, unfold the drama in real time without cut scenes, promoting an engaging relationship between player, characters and story.

Dissemination

Maureen Thomas presents the project in the context of «Creative Processes in Interactive and Multidimensional Storytelling» at the first Artistic Research Café (Norwegian Film School and Norwegian Film Institute Lab) held at the Norwegian Film School’s Myrens Verksted studios in Oslo, October 2018.

https://www.nfi.no/kalender/artistic-research-cafe
https://www.filmskolen.no/artikler/2018/ar-cafe-1

Initial pre-production experimental prototype: January – May 2019

Maureen Thomas presents work achieved and in progress in an initial pre-production interactive experimental Unreal Engine prototype made by the Westerdals intern team at Snow Castle Games Oslo at the Artistic Research Café, hosted by the Norwegian Film School and the Norwegian Film Institute Lab at the Norwegian Film School’s Oslo studios, Myrens Verksted, in March 2019.

https://www.nfi.no/kalender/artistic-research-cafe

Pre-production prototype: June - September 2019

Maureen Thomas presents, and Bendik Stang demonstrates, the second experimental pre-production prototype, built by Snow Castle on its Earthlock customised Unreal platform - positively reviewed by expert commentator Lily Diaz, Professor of New Media, Aalto University Helsinki, with participant feedback - at the Norwegian Artistic Research Forum held at the Norwegian Film School, Lillehammer in September 2019.

https://diku.no/arrangementer/artistic-research-autumn-forum-2019

Beggar Model (Uthaug, Hellekås, Hanzl) Feb 2021. Queens Game Experimental pre-production Project (QGEP) in progress 2021
Maureen Thomas fix 3
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