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By Sven Shaw on

Creating interactives for life offline

One of the interactive games I was tasked with making for a gallery about the internet was about life before the internet. A perverse request, you might think...

Perhaps I’d been spotted in one too many tank tops or quarter brogues. Whatever the reason, it would be called Life Offline.

Initially this involved a lot of research into the topics, and lacking in a time machine, I opted for the next best thing—talking to people who remembered life in the 1950s. So I enlisted the help of the Museum’s fortnightly reminiscence group. I wanted to know what the average house would have owned, were cameras were in widespread use, were children allowed to play out in the rain? All the hot topics from the 1950s! It was then on to eBay to buy items that successfully replicated your average 50s household and that had been made obsolete by the internet.

The original idea was to complete a series of tasks without using the internet—such as listening to music, organising a party, or sharing photographs with friends—and to select the appropriate objects. However it became apparent that completing a set of mundane activities wasn’t going to make for a thrilling interactive experience, so we hit upon a quiz format instead. The questions were tested on the unsuspecting public and refined according to how interested they were and how well they understood the point of the activity.

And then I could begin making the ruddy thing. I thought it’d be fun to make a collage of 50s vignettes using old images from our collection. I meticulously went through our archives picking out people I thought looked amusing and then digitally cut them out to create appropriate scenes. These I then animated to keep the viewer (and myself) entertained. It was then coding time and I set about creating the ‘EventListeners’, ‘functions’ and ‘if statements’ that make the game actually work. I won’t bore you with the details. Oh, I already have? Sorry about that.

With the quiz made, audience tested, re-made, audience tested again, re-made again, and after what seemed like a mobius strip of infinte amends, it was time to add the sound. I was on version 25. These were a combination of sounds found online, recordings of the Life Online team sounding like an angry or curious mob and me putting on an RP accent. I’d had some practice pretending to be Peter Sissons for another Life Online interactive.

And then it was finally done. The version in the gallery is number 28 so please give it a go, it’s taken a lot of refining. It’s also jolly good fun, old fruit.

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