Extended Experiences Lab

The Extended Experiences Lab is a workshop and commissioned immersive events around films. In partnership with the West End Film Festival, and funded by Screen Queensland and Universe Creation 101, the lab will commission creative teams to extend a selection of finalists at the festival. Those teams will create a pre- or post-experience around a film. Films include features, shorts, animations, experimental, documentary and music video. Any creatives can also apply to do the workshop too, where they can learn how to extend their creative project (whether it is film or not).

A Thin Black Line

A 12 minute animated documentary VR project for SBS (Gear VR, Go), I was brought in as a Narrative Design consultant by VRTOV. I worked with Douglas Watkin, Oscar Raby, Katy Morrison, and Brooke Mags.

An animated documentary in interactive VR, A Thin Black Line is directed by Douglas Watkin with artwork by Vernon Ah Kee and is produced by the VR production studio VRTOV.

A Thin Black Line invites you to step into a pivotal event in the history of one family, and a nation, as seen by a young child. The bombing of Darwin in 1942 was the first and largest aerial attack on mainland Australia during the Second World War. When the bombs reach Patima’s hometown, she is forced to flee, leaving her father behind.

A Thin Black Line has been commissioned by SBS with support from Screen Queensland as part of their Untold Australia series which offers uniquely personal stories from some of Australia’s diverse communities.

8 Word Story

On 10th October 2017, The Queensland Writers’ Centre opened submissions for a special story competition. Called “8 Word Story”, the competition invited writers to submit a story in 8 words maximum. If selected, it would be displayed on digital billboards around Brisbane. Mine was selected, and broadcast on 24th October to multiple locations. There were over 10,000 entries.

Crafting Intangibles


Crafting Intangibles is an online international and local event exploring interactive narrative design, being held on June 10th-11th, 2017. The event is sponsored by Screen Queensland, and features some of the most accomplished and inspiring creatives who will help clarify and stretch our understanding of narrative design.

Speakers include Brie Code (Child of Light, Assassin’s Creed, Company of Heroes), Peter Dunne (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Melrose Place, JAG), Brian Upton (Rainbow Six, Ghost Recon), Chris Avellone (Planescape: Torment, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, Fallout (2 and New Vegas), and many others. The videos will feature new perspectives and an activity prompt. Everyone can join in online for the event, and a special local event will be held in Brisbane, Australia. Tickets at http://www.CraftingIntangibles.co


‘Magister Ludi’ for Experimenta’s International Biennial of Media Art

Magister Ludi is a comedic game about our role in escape, that is a touring installation and is available for the iPad, and online (update: May 2015. Due to changes to Chrome where Unity web player cannot be used, view in any browser but Chrome). The game was commissioned for Experimenta’s 2015 International Biennial of Media Art: Recharge, is Finalist for the ‘Digital Narrative’ category of the 2016 WA Premier’s Book Prize, was Finalist for the 2015 International New Media Writing Prize (UK), Exhibited at Babycastles (NYC) for Cara Ellison’s 2015 ‘Embed with Games’ book launch, and was Official Selection for the 2014 Freeplay Independent Games Festival’s Parallels event at ACMI. “Magister Ludi” is an online game and installation that puts a twist on the escape-the-room genre with a wry narrator and design that interrogates our role in needing to escape. It is informed by my experience in getting through a PhD, getting over an abusive relationship, and getting away from poverty. It is about the thought-processes that stay with you long after the problems are around, and so you don’t truly escape until you deal with them. The title is an allusion to Herman Hesse’s Nobel-prize-winning novel “The Glass Bead Game,” and Magister Ludi plays with the idea of the conceptual game depicted in the novel. It launched in the exhibition and online in late November, 2014.

Magister Ludi is now available in the iTunes App store, and currently touring around Australia for the Experimenta tour:



Experimenta Trailer:

Freeplay Parallels Trailer:

Experimenta interview:

Project Catalogue


Christy Dena – writer, designer, director
Marigold Bartlett – visual artist
Trevor Dikes – sound designer & composer
Cameron Owen – programmer
Iain McManus – app port programmer

photo 3 (1)


Drawing on the escape-the-room phenomenon, I created a space that is about escape. However, since I wanted the emphasis to be on our role in needing to escape I changed the mechanics. Instead of solving puzzles through opening objects and moving them around to unlock puzzles, the player places objects in the room. The movement of objects is further complicated by what they mean. So the player needs to see whether adding to the room (or taking away) actually helps them or not. Indeed they’re not really escaping a room, instead they’re constructing their world in a manner that either denies their needs or places them on the path to self-sufficiency.

The full writing and interactions spreadsheets are available here (spoilers):

Room 1: MagisterLudiGame_WritingandInteractions_SchoolRoomData
Room 2: MagisterLudiGame_WritingandInteractions_BedroomData
Room 3: MagisterLudiGame_WritingandInteractions_EmptyRoomData


photo 4 (1)

Boss Bluff

A card game currently in development. Boss Bluff is a social deduction game with shifting alliances. You’re at a tense dinner where Under Bosses give speeches professing their loyalty to each other. Be the best at determining who is betraying you and you’ll triumph as the Big Boss. It is for 4 players, and play time is about 90 mins.

Prototype set-up image:


Spider & Fly

A blind spider and a young housefly team up to compete in a web art competition being held in the bucket at the back fence.

An animated short film and digital local co-op game in development, in partnership with a sydney animation house.

Book & Design Kit

I am currently writing a book and accompanying design kit.

Who is this book for?

  • Creative Directors, Showrunners
  • Narrative Designers
  • Interactive Writers, Screenwriters
  • Game Designers, Level Designers
  • UX, Interaction, & Service Designers
  • Creative Producers who want to understand the aesthetic ramifications of development, production, distribution, and marketing decisions
  • Educators teaching any of the above


I am drawing on my previous published work on cross-media interaction design, as well as the insights I have gained over the years as a designer, researcher & educator. It is illustrated by Marigold Bartlett, who has worked with me on the Magister Ludi Game and forthcoming board game DIY SPY.

  • I tested the first prototype at a workshop on Transmedia Writing & Design at Unitech, New Zealand in November, 2015.
  • I gave two 3 hour lectures with short exercises for first year multidisciplinary classes at Griffith University in 2016.
  • I gave a speech at the Navitas Women’s Networking event in Sydney in 2016 about concepts from the book introduction.
  • I gave two workshops at SAE Creative Media Institute film and media students, taking them through interest design techniques and audience design techniques respectively, in November, 2016.

Prototype 2:


Prototype 1:


‘Playing Kandanga’ for Creative Recovery Network


I was commissioned by the Creative Recovery Network to create an App with the Kandanga community. I archived stories & play through the generations. The Creative Recovery Network builds experiences with artists and communities:

“A growing network of artists and cultural and community workers are taking the lead in helping their communities recover from the impact of natural disasters through creativity. The aim is to share knowledge and build a network of artists ready to support communities in meeting future challenges.”

I am worked with the Friends of Kandanga and the local school to build a playful App for locals and tourists to the area. It was soft-launched at the centenary of the local school in September, 2015.


Android app on Google Play


‘Who Left the Windows Open?!’ for Iron Game Designer

A cooperative game where you are kids in a house where the windows have been left open and pests have swarmed in. You have 3 actions per turn, moves, opening and closing doors. You’re running around trying to channel the pests (wasps, snakes, spiders, ants & mosquitos) towards each other as predators attack each other. The threat level rises each turn (nests, swarms, etc).

Colleague Ralf Muhlberger and I teamed up to participate in the 2015 IRON GAME DESIGNER Challenge run by Steve Dee, where participants have two hours to make a board game.  Problems in our competition strategy include going with the idea we were excited by rather than the idea we could produce, test, and then play in the short judging time. So we didn’t win, but we have a game that has legs!

Description of the game on the competition site:

Taking the theme as their title this was another very literal reading. Kids left at home were battling growing threats (in the case of the first and so far only deck, creepy crawlies like snakes and spiders), with the enemies being generated with constant turning decks of cards that get progressively worse. In a lovely twist, however, the kids can’t fight the threat, but only contain it or direct it. Only able to move slowly and open and close doors they need to work together to drive monsters towards each other – and figure out which will cancel out and which will get worse. This is determined by a five-way scissor-paper-rock system which judges feared might be too complicated to solve especially for the family audience the theme suggested. Like Home Intrusion, the designers felt they may have lost too much time to the tyranny of cutting and pasting, but also like Home Intrustion, the literal, immediate and relatable interpretation won points and captured imaginations.