Many congratulations to Blast Theory and the team on winning a BIMA for Karen at the British Interactive Media Association Awards 2015. Karen won the BIMA in the ‘data’ category, which is appropriate, since as the New York Times explains,
Karen is a fictional coach in a software-driven experiential art piece. Part story, part game, designed to be played over a period of days, it offers a deliberately unsettling experience that’s intended to make us question the way we bare ourselves to a digital device.
I am proud to have contributed to Karen, as script editor and story consultant. I always enjoy working with Blast Theory—we previously collaborated on Ivy4evr, an interactive drama for mobile phones commissioned by Channel 4 and broadcast back in 2010—and I always learn a great deal from doing so. There can be few who are more experienced or have a more highly developed, multi-dimensional, practical and nuanced understanding of interactive storytelling and participation than Blast Theory.
And here’s the blurb about Karen:
A cross between gaming and storytelling … Karen is a chaotic and over-friendly life coach in the form of a new smartphone app. Karen gets to know you using psychological testing techniques. She askes questions about your outlook on the world and life experiences, and uses the collected data to profile you and personalise your week-long experience. The app mines data and reflects the results back to the user, in a playful and disconcerting way. Blast Theory is an award-winning artists’ collective and a pioneer in digital storytelling. As your relationship with her unfolds, Karen becomes more and more curious. She is slightly chaotic with few boundaries between her personal and professional life, and she seems to know things about you that she shouldn’t. Karen is in fact profiling you, giving you advice based on your conversations as well as the data scraped from your mobile.
Karen by Blast Theory has been produced in partnership with National Theatre Wales. Co-commissioned by The Space and 539 Kickstarter backers, Karen has been developed with support from the Mixed Reality Lab at the University of Nottingham and in collaboration with Dr Kelly Page