Story City

There is a world of stories waiting for us on the streets of the Gold Coast; thrilling adventures of imagined and real feet that have walked these streets. All it took was imagination to rein them into our mobile phones, allowing us as readers to be part of the adventure, changing the course of history at every turn.

Launched at the REaD Café on Paradise Island in February, the free app Story City is the brainchild of producer Emily Craven. Funded by a RAD (Regional Arts Development) grant, Story City allows you to do real life Choose-your-own-adventure explorations of the Gold Coast, discovering hidden nooks and beautiful vistas as you become the hero of your very own adventure.

Bearing similarities to orienteering and geocaching, the app used story, art and music to give us physical checkpoints and clues, with the reader being an active participant in the story’s progression.

Will you go back in time to post-war Coolangatta to get your grandparents together? Do you choose to find the lost rings needed for your godmother’s wedding in the Sanctuary Cove resort? Or will you become a wizard in Southport using Australia’s first book of magic? These are the three stories presently featured in the app.

We spoke to Tim Baker who, along with authors Dimity Powell and Ben Brown, created one of the stories.

“While there’s a lot of source material for stories in Gold Coast history, creating the story for this app was pretty challenging. You have to get your head around all the alternative story paths that the adventure might take, keeping track of characters and what as happened to them, as well as the alternative endings. It’s a bit like a family tree, with branches going out everywhere. You have to physically walk the paths of the story, making sure as you progress that the clue checkpoints aren’t too far apart.”

I think of the crumb trails that authors leave, foreshadowing and clues that can be picked up at a later stage in a story. Eight possible endings means throwing eight sets of balls into the air and being able to juggle and catch them all, rather than just one set.

“My story is a ‘faction’ – part fact, part fiction, set in Coolangatta in the cool 50s Hokey Pokey era,” Tim tells me. “It includes real characters from history, such as Sharky Jack Evans, and real places such as the Porpoise Pools. You travel back in time to match-make your grandparents. You interfere in their romance, and if you don’t put it together you won’t exist!”

Clever! I’m intrigued already, as it’s a great way to engage with history and local area while getting a bit of exercise in a fun way. It’s a view that Tim shares.

“Instead of talking about the negatives of social media and mobile phones, this project embraces the technology to tell a story. It’s a clever idea,” he says.

Download the free story city app on the Android or Apple app stores or via www.storycity.com.au. The world is full of adventures. Choose yours, and make it local.

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