The New Media Writing Prize

Recently I was a guest at the 5th New Media Writing Prize awards ceremony at Bournemouth University. The Prize was originally established in conjunction with the Poole Literary Festival, and as part of the Festival I was involved in promoting the Prize in its first year. This year was the first time since then that I have been able to return, and it was gratifying to see how, under the enthusiastic direction of Dr James Pope, BA English Framework Leader at BU and competition director for the New Media Writing Prize, the award has developed into a major event.

It was very much an evening of two halves. In the first section two of the judges, Chris Meade and Maria Mencia gave presentations and answered questions exploring their very different approaches to New Media creation – so different that it became clear that no one is quite sure how to define New Media work, or even if that is the right term for an art form which may (or might not) combine the written word with interactive elements of drawing, painting, animation, gaming, video, film, audio, music and social media. New Media is developing rapidly and inventing itself as it goes along.

After a short break James Pope introduced each of the works in the three Prize categories: People’s Choice, Student and the overall New Media Writing Prize. In total there were over 100 entries from around the world, ranging from a complimentary poetry game to a cinematic look inside the troubled mind of a demolition expert, to a nightmarish quest inspired by Edgar Allen Poe.

The overall prize of £1,000 was won by Samantha Gorman and Danny Cannizzaro, from Los Angeles, for their work Pry – an app which uses gaming, video and text to tell the story of a demolition expert who has returned from the Gulf War. They received their award live by Skype, saying, “We really care about developing the story and technology and design simultaneously. It’s something that we have worked on for so long, so to see some of the responses has been brilliant.”

Winner of the People’s Choice Award – decided by an online vote – was Nothing You Have Done Deserves Such Praise, by Jason Nelson, from Brisbane, Australia. This satirical online poetry game compliments the player as they progress through different levels and challenges.  Jason, who had just got up, it being early morning in Brisbane, was hilarious on Skype. Which was nothing to do with the fact that he was still wearing his pajamas. James’ global-spanning conversation with Jason both demonstrated the technological interconnectedness of the world which allows New Media to happen, and proved the most entertaining moments of the night.

Herm Holland, who is studying English and Contemporary Media at Cardiff Metropolitan University, won the Student Prize for his work A Dream Within A Dream, an interactive story inspired by an Edgar Allen Poe poem. Herm, whose prize was a three-month paid internship with e-learning company Unicorn Training, was able to accept his award in person and commented, “I entered the competition because I thought it could be fun and it sounded interesting. Coming here at all has been really helpful and winning has shown me that I am going in the right direction, which is really encouraging. It’s fantastic.”

As James Pope said, “It’s been the biggest ever and I think the quality of the work has been amazing. I think that speaks really well of the health of this field. It is about storytelling, it is about using media in the most interactive and creative way, and it generally does attract great interest from the writers and storytelling community.”

Follow the link to explore the winning entries and find out more about the New Media Writing Prize.