Location-based Storytelling and Augmented Reality

Lecture for Week 6 of the module “Storytelling for Multiple Platforms”, School of Media, Design and Technology, University of Bradford.

It is useful to begin with a general discussion of the importance of location in storytelling. Stories will always take place in a location. Action and events have to take place somewhere, real or imagined. It’s one of those crucial elements of a story such as character and plot. Locations can be either physical and real, or virtual. Indeed, when I begin to talk about Augmented Reality in a short while, we can see these two worlds merging together: the real and the virtual. But let’s stick to real locations for the time being.

The location of a story will play an important part in how the story turns out. This is especially the case in drama productions, film, television and in novels. Think about what stories would be like if they were not set in a particular location. It’s doubtful as to whether they would work at all if that were the case. The story would most likely be rendered meaningless.

Take a piece of drama such as To Walk Invisible. [Trailer].

Where is it set? What is the importance of the location?


Interestingly, the location and the building of the sets were negotiated by the Film Office, here at the University, by David Wilson. A replica version of the Parsonage – the home of the Bronte family in Haworth – was constructed as a set on the moors beyond the real Parsonage building. In addition, we have been working with the Bronte Parsonage Museum looking at ways of using location-based media and virtual reality to encourage audience engagement and participation and to disseminate aspects of the Museum’s holdings and virtual experiences online.

At some point during the course of the module we will be visiting York Minster. As part of this study trip you will be asked to consider how to engage visitors to the grounds outside the Minster using this location as a basis for stories. This is with the specific intention of engaging young people and help make connections between the grounds outside the building and the interior of the Minster itself. Staff at the Minster are also keen to encourage local people who use the grounds – the Dean’s Garden –  to visit the inside of the Minster. It is an intriguing prospect, that of using location-based storytelling, mobile gaming and perhaps some aspects of augmented reality, to support audience development and to encourage visitors to enter the inside of the Minster.

York Minster Project

As you have been preparing your proposals, you should have at some point considered where your stories are set and in what location or locations does the action take place and your characters reside. If you have not considered possible locations in your proposals, then this is a serious omission.  Take some time now to discuss in your teams what are the places where the action takes place in your stories.

Bryan Alexander (2011) The New Digital Storytelling: Creating Narratives with New Media

On-line interactive storytelling

Augmented Reality

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