Posted at 10:08 am by Michael, on September 19, 2019
In October of 2014, not long after my mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer, I stood outside with a Corona in my hand and watched the most violent and majestic lightning storm I have ever seen strike arcs across the city.
At the time my partner and I were renting a house on the side of a hill: a ramshackle building that groaned and shook alarmingly when the gully winds swept down from Mount Lofty.
It was from this precarious position, atop the weakening, untreated planks of wooden decking that I was afforded an extraordinary view of the storm in all its hideous brilliance; each bolt of lightning blasted away the darkness and cast the world in strange, electric shades.
The lightning that night matched the unspeakable terror that I was feeling. On the precipice of loss, on the knife edge of grief I was yet to experience: the lightning gave form to my pain and writ it large across the city for everyone to see.
I check the time: it’s four o’clock. Overhead the sky alternates between shades of bleakness. The wind blows and it rattles the corrugated tin shed. The wooden beams creak. I see flowers shaking, clinging tightly to their mothers. Some of them are dislodged and spin and whirl without a care. Petals fall to the ground like congratulatory confetti.
My eyes are misty, but I blink back the tears. I force myself to exhale: because, right now, not even the simple act of breathing comes naturally. I need to go back inside, but I don’t want to. I don’t want any of this.
But today is not about what I want—today is about what the Universe wants to take away.
I have recently been fortunate enough to contribute to Story City: a project that uses a mobile app to combine text, narration, music and images to immerse readers in an interactive choose-your-own-adventure* style story that’s set in the real world.
Wanting to be involved with the project was a no-brainer from the moment I first heard about it. The bookshelf above my head is packed full of game books I’ve been collecting since I was a kid. I always loved these types of books because of their ability to grant that elusive wish—to make the reader an active participant in the story.
Story City is in an entirely different league to those old-fashioned game books. The app doesn’t only tell a story, but adds music, pictures and narration to create an experience; an interactive narrative in which the reader is at the centre.
The story that I have written for Story City is a science-fiction espionage tale entitled, “The Firm”. My story has been woven into the very fabric of reality around some of my childhood haunts. It will linger there, invisibly, until you download the app. Not merely a story, but a part of the city.
It is pioneering projects like Story City that are working to define the digital reality that is rapidly appearing all around us. A new sort of real estate has been created: an extra dimension in which we are limited only by our imaginations. Playgrounds can become satellite control-centres and historical buildings clandestine meeting spots. Tour guides can speak, digitally, into your headphones and explain to you the local history of a place as you explore it.
It’s mind-bending if you think about it. It’s fantastic. And, perhaps most exciting thing of all is the fact that we’ve only just spotted the tip of a very large iceberg.
We live in a time where magic is being breathed into the world, all around us, every day. Hand-held computers (that we still insist on calling ‘phones) are the magic wands with which this power may be conjured.
I am thrilled, thanks to Story City, to have been given the opportunity to embellish the streets of Grange with a little magic of my own: conspiracies and ghost-trains are finally coming to life on the very streets where I first imagined them.
Download the Story City app from Google Play or the Apple App Store to experience them for yourself, as soon as the story becomes available.