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Canadian Student Wins Unicorn-Backed Bournemouth University New Media Writing Prize

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A Canadian mum-of-three, who gets up at 5.30am to write, has had her commitment to storytelling rewarded by landing Bournemouth University’s Unicorn Training-sponsored New Media Writing Prize Student Award for 2017.

New Media Writing Prize Student Award winner, Natasha Nunn, accepts her award from Canada
New Media Writing Prize Student Award winner, Natasha Nunn, accepts her award from Canada 

University of Alberta Masters student, Natasha Nunn, has won £500 after her digital ghost story, Mary Rose, wowed judges with its interactive and immersive creativity.

The international New Media Writing Prize is leading the way in the future of the ‘written’ word and storytelling, through showcasing inventive stories that integrate a variety of digital formats and media.

The Unicorn Student Prize challenges writers to create an engaging piece of fiction or non-fiction that connects with a wide audience and demonstrates how new media can do things traditional media cannot.

Edmonton-based Natasha is a web developer for the University of Alberta Libraries while also studying for her Masters in Library and Information Studies. She entered the award after being encouraged by her lecturer, Professor Astrid Ensslin. Natasha had created Mary Rose for Prof. Ensslin’s Digital Fictions class.

The Student Prize winner can accept a three-month paid placement working with Unicorn’s writing and design team or £500 if they cannot undertake that position. With location preventing Natasha joining the Unicorn team in Bournemouth, she is just delighted to have her work recognised on the other side of the Atlantic.

She said: “Mary Rose is about my children’s great-grandmother and I’ve been writing the story for about six months. I actually have a lot more written and was originally intending it to be a novel, but I decided to use some of it for my Digital Fictions class final project and was really happy with how the story worked in a digital format.

“Interactive fiction is a young genre and one that seems to have some built in contradictions, the biggest being that interactivity doesn’t usually foster the immersion I associate with good fiction. But I think as more people experiment with the genre we will discover unexpected beauty in these contradictions. That’s why awards like this are so great; they encourage emerging artists. I don't think we’ve even scratched the surface of the artistic potential of the genre so thanks to Unicorn and Bournemouth University for supporting this movement.”

Natasha was unable to attend the awards ceremony, hosted at the university last month, but sent her thank-yous via a pre-recorded video. Attendees, including those shortlisted for the four awards presented on the night, enjoyed a fascinating insight into the history of gaming icon, Lara Croft, from guest speaker, Adrian Smith, Executive Producer on Tomb Raider 1-6 and now Chief Operating Officer at Unicorn’s games partners, Amuzo.

Adrian and his brother Jeremy set up Core Design, a small game design studio in Derby in 1988. Eight years later they created Tomb Raider and Adrian went on to run a 200-strong production team for Eidos Interactive after they bought Core Design. As someone at the forefront of interactive storytelling, he was impressed with what he saw at the awards.

Adrian added: “It was a real pleasure, as well as very exciting, to see the innovation and creativity in how the finalists were, through a range of different formats and platforms, bringing their narratives to life via digital technology.”

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