‘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

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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


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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.

‘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



AUTHENTIC IN ALL CAPS is a comedic web audio adventure about the meaning of death for your Chrome browser, or the iPad (no-longer available on iPad as of 25th Feb, 2017). The soundtrack and code to make you own web audio tour are also available. There is also a ‘Making-Of’ diary, and the full writing script [PDF].

AUTHENTIC won the 2014 WA Premier’s Prize for “Digital Narrative”, and the 2014 Australian Writers’ Guild Award for “Interactive Media”; and was Official Selection for the 2014 Electronic Literature Organization’s Media Arts Showcase. An early prototype was Finalist for “Best Writing in a Game” Award at the 2012 Freeplay Independent Gaming Festival, the crowdfunding campaign attracted supporters from 14 countries, and we were awarded a grant from Screen Australia’s multi-platform drama fund. The University of Southern California included AUTHENTIC in their elit reading club.

The project is a playful comedy drama for your Chrome Browser or iPad. It is inspired by audio tours, radio drama, and alternate reality games. AUTHENTIC IN ALL CAPS is an audio drama that plays while you visit fictional places on the web.

Players follow the experience of Pathologist with a past as an Underworld Philosopher take on a bet to find the meaning of death. Despite help from her part-time Time Traveling Assistant, she finds her investigation upsets fellow Gambling Philosophers, Ticket Inspectors, Artist Assassins and the Quantum Theorist Crime Boss. Ultimately, her inability to fit in makes everyone involved…really annoyed.

“The writing, the visuals and the music created for AUTHENTIC IN ALL CAPS are of the highest quality and are delightful to experience”
The Conversation

“One of the most interesting uses of apps for storytelling we’ve seen in a while”
The Appside

If video killed the radio star, then an App might just revive them”
QUT Media

Christy Dena – writer, designer, producer, director
Trevor Dikes – sound designer, composer
Yangtian Li – illustrator
Craig Peebles – app programmer (iPad)
Andrey Ivanov – app programmer (Chrome browser plug-in)
Elroy – app interface & logo

Jimmy James Eaton – Narrator + Underworld Goon
Alison Richards – Pathologist
Nadia Collins – Assistant:
Adam McKenzie – New Client
Ben McKenzie – Ticket Officer + Philosopher Gambler
Stefan Taylor – Philosopher Ex
Richard McKenzie – Artist Assassin
Tegan Higginbotham – Quantum Pizzeria Waitress
Kevin J Powe – Quantum Boss + Philosopher Gambler

Full credits and more information at the project website

Full Writing Scripts [PDF]

USC elit group


‘Guardians of Hidden Universes’ for PopUp Playground

Guardians of Hidden Universes is a playful story for experiencing on your phone in the street. You’re a Guardian of Hidden Universes, and when you check your Communication Terminal you find the Guild has made a terrible mistake you need to repair. The app was launched at Popup Playground‘s 2013 Fresh Air Festival – a street gaming festival in Melbourne, Australia.

Arrow_ AddtoHomeScreen_

The experience lasts about 15-25 minutes, and takes you around whatever city you happen to be in. This playful story is inspired by the design challenge of creating a locative-experience that is not site-specific. How can we have an experience than engages with the environment that also can work worldwide? The story is also playing with the idea of engaging with a character and a space using your intuition within a short period of time.


Christy Dena – concept, writing, and design
Elroy – artwork, coding, and interface design