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Heather Kelley's picture

Day 4: October 31, 2013

Today I finished the writing for our (as yet unnamed) game about the abandoned buildings of Tiger Bay. My task was to write some dialogs as if I was speaking in the voice of the building. After we chose our locations, I did some research about each one online, to learn about what they had been, and what they might become in the future. My research even took me on a short walk over to the Butetown History and Arts Centre (BHAC) to pick up a copy of Harry “Shipmate” Cooke’s mid-20th-century memoir How I Saw it: A Stroll Thro’ Old Cardiff Bay, to try to get a sense of the voice of the place in its heyday.

Even though I’m a non-local in the extreme (being an American) I wanted to capture an authentic sounding voice without being too corny. And of course I wanted the actors to be able and willing to adapt the dialog to their natural speech patterns and senses of humor. For the first two buildings (which are the first two game levels) we sourced the talent locally, right in-house at Play:DO. Our very own Mog (@mog4) voiced the old Train Depot: Train Station Story (wav, 310kb)

Notorious character Ben Hyde (@Surfmonkey78) took on the role of the old Custom House: Custom House Story (wav, 1.8mb)

But I wanted at least one woman-voiced building. Before I was able to corner one of the Play:DO female team members with my microphone, we had to end our day and leave the WMC. But this led to an unexpectedly positive outcome. While in Cardiff, I’ve been staying as a lodger in a private home by the railroad tracks in Splott. My host Derw is a kind but forthright personality, and when I returned home after a long day she naturally offered me tea and we sat down for a chat about how things were going. That’s when I realized that she’d be perfect in the role of the Hotel. So we set up the recording device (it’s my iPad actually) and I gave her the lines to read. After a few starts and stops while she came to understand the context of the game experience and the hotel’s backstory, she nailed it beautifully: Hotel Story (wav, 1.5mb)

So, in one small way, even though it’s not finished yet, our game is already engendering conversations on the lives of Cardiff’s historic places, and creating a moment of cross-cultural collaboration! All over the kitchen table, no less.

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play:DO - part of playARK 2013 festival

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