‘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



DIY SPY is an improvisational storytelling party game for 3-18+ players. Players are carrying out cooperative mission scenarios in different rooms of your house of office, using whatever objects are around.

GO423_DIYSPY GO423Exhibition

photo (3)

Christy Dena – writing & design
Marigold Bartlett – artist

Mechanic: improvisation, storytelling
Genre: Humour
Platform(s): Board game
Audience: Party, Strangers (ice-breaker)
Playtime: 30+ minutes
Minimum Age: 12+
Theme: Spy
Player numbers: 3-18 players


It was originally conceived as a game that combines digital and live play, continuing my design interest in pervasive games. The original idea: in 5 minutes you use anything available to fulfill your missions and train to be a spy. I then adapted the format to be completely live and for over 18+ players and last about 50mins. I developed a festival version, and am developing a boardgame version.

I came up with the original idea in response to the 22Jams prompt of “make a game where you must be standing in order to play”. I didn’t have the time to create the game for the Jam, but the game stuck with me. Harry Lee of Wanderlands (who recently released their award-winning game Stickets), put out a call for collaborators on game projects. I took my game to Harry and he jumped on board encouraging the game to go ahead. We playtested the game at Harry’s Glitchmark game design event. I’ve since playtested versions at Popup Playground, JunkJam #2Playtest Saturday Afternoon in Melbourne; the GO423 Popup Exhibition at The Powerhouse in Brisbane; various homes and office buildings; a playtest event for IGDA Brisbane; with interaction design and writing students at QUT; colleagues at SAE Media Institute; players at the Boardgames & Beers Meetup (Brisbane); participants at Forward Slash Story; with design feedback from Lorraine Hopping Egan and Matt Parkes (designer of Burger Up). The name of the game was developed with contributors in the Card and Board Game Designers Guild.

It is a super fun game where everyone entertains each other. It works as an ice-breaker game, team-bonding game, and just as a party game with mates.

‘Bakers of Anarchy’ for PopUp Playground

You are a contestant in the finale of the 9th Annual Cake Decorating Championship. One of the hosts has been embroiled in a bitter buttercream scandal, and so you arrive to find an Anarchist is now running the competition. In this hands-on live game, you do whatever you can to impress the revolutionary philosopher with your anarchic cake decorating to ultimately win the championship, or the good fight.

This live game was featured at Pop Up Playground‘s 2015 Fresh Air Festival in Melbourne on the 6th and 7th of March. It combines reality tv, baking competitions, and live gaming to create an experience that facilitates progressive anarchy.

Designer: Christy Dena
The Anarchist: Richard McKenzie
The Host: Petra Elliot
Audience Wrangler: Ben McKenzie
Design Advice: David Fono, Nick Fortugno, Ben McKenzie
Client: Pop Up Playground







roaring decorating


Host with secretbusiness

picking up a kid



‘Séance for Lost Stuff’ for PopUp Playground

Séance for Lost Stuff  is a party game for 4 or more players. You arrive at a séance to find that everyone, including yourself, can channel the spirit of a lost object. Your goal is to be the first to find the locations of your own lost objects and pass on the locations you have of others.


The current version is a live festival game. It was created for Pop Up Playground’s 2014 Fresh Air Festival to be run in the tent on Saturday night March 8th, 2014. Although this festival is run predominately outside, I felt drawn to creating an inside game. I liked the idea of doing a comedy séance, and so the idea of communing with lost objects sprung from there.

Since my last game for PUP involved cards, and the one before that involved a phone, I was keen in this game to impose a no-card and no-gadget restriction. There are bits of paper and tokens in this game, but none are especially made. Indeed, all objects are low-fi as part of the theme and aesthetic. Related to this is another aspect I was keen to explore in this game: ritual. I have previously created an experience that involved ritual and wanted to take it even further this time. The rituals in this game are influenced by common rituals in séances, and rituals my mum taught me.

Playtesters include: Deb Polson, Donna Bonde, Lois Spangler, Moya Kate, Truna, Matt Horton, and the final PUP playtesters in Melbourne on Feb 22nd.

PUP_SeancePlaytest220214_3 PUP_SeancePlaytest220214 PUP_SeancePlaytest220214_2



Sharing Ink

Public art artist Sayraphim Lothian invited me to participate in her “guerrilla kindness project” Sharing Ink. The brief is to write a short piece in a hand-crafted journal to leave for a stranger in the street, and hopefully they will add to it and leave it for another person.

I was interested in utilising the mechanic of leaving a message in a location, and so I wrote a piece that encouraged the finder to enter their own moment they want to “leave behind”. They then leave it at a place that is significant for the “leaving behind” moment for a stranger to find. So I wrote a story about the location I left it, and what was significant about that location and what I was leaving behind (the relationship). I enjoyed designing the process of finding, writing, and leaving as a cathartic ritual.



‘Shenanigans’ for SAE Creative Media Institute

Shenanigans is an ambient party game commissioned for my work Christmas party. The organisers wanted some fun game for the staff to play and wanted it to be something accessible for the non-game players in the room. My personal goal was to create a game that anyone could do at any time (ambient), which encouraged co-operation (across different social groups), and which changed the nature of the party substantially (triggered a party atmosphere).

Shenanigans game

I was inspired by Margaret Robinson’s game “Drunken Dungeon” commissioned for NYU 2012 “No Quarter” event. So I used drinks (any kind) as the currency for moving forward. However, I added things like a real world consequence to achievements in the game.

Shenanigans game

The game rules:
1) Party guests are asked to bring a small token to represent themselves on the board (this facilitates investment, ownership, and identity).
2) Players draw a number (1-50) to discover what square they will start on. You could use a 50-sided dice, numbered chips or a random-generator on your phone. I used 100 numbered poker chips and had the players return their chip to the bowl after each draw.
3) In order to move to the next square they have to fill the circles with stickers. Stickers are given at the bar for any drink issued (alcoholic and non-alcoholic). When the circles are filled, any tokens on that square move forward. What happens is people end up placing them on other people’s squares to get them to come closer to an Event square or to fill a row.
4) When anyone lands on an Event square they need to have x3 people/Tokens on the square before they can draw on Event Card (you don’t need stickers). Those 3 (or more) players then do the Event (which could be something they do as a group, or something they get other people at the party to do). Once they do the activity they can move on to the next square.
5) Whenever a full row of Stickers is filled, then the corresponding Surprise is opened. 

Shenanigans game

Things you will need: 

* Print out the board [JPG, PDF, PSD] or make your own (and laminate it if you wish — I did). The art was done by Ellen, using images from the web. So please don’t charge for it.
* Spare tokens & a marker to write initials on them if they look the same.
* Starting square system: 50-sided dice, numbered discs, random-generator on your phone.
* Stickers to fill the circles on the board.
* x10 Surprises that affect everyone at the party. (Examples include: a box of popping streamers; fake beards; tinsels necklaces; mini-water guns; bubbles; popping plastic…). You will need to label the surprises with numbers (1-10).
* Write up Event Cards (we used 5 events over 3 hours). See ideas below.
* Some spare presents to reward those that win any Events you write (according to whether the group or individuals win).

Ideas for Event Cards: you can change the Surprises and Events according to the theme of your party. The design principle is you create Events that affect the party in some way, and mix up having the Event involve those that draw the card and also having them grab other people from the party to do it. Some examples: 

– Everyone on this square is to grab another person each from the room and get them to dance the Reindeer Dance (you have to make up the moves for them)
– Everyone on this square will a approach a group at the party and challenge them to a multiplayer thumb wrestle…
– Everyone on this square is to take over DJing and get people dancing
– If you’re having trouble coming up with Events, check out Hide & Seek’s Tiny Games app for great ideas.

I hope you enjoy the game! Let me know if you play it, and especially if you adapt the game in any way. I would love to hear your ideas and see how the game develops!

Horas Perditam

Photo on 5-4-13 at 6.53 PM

Ken Eklund (WriterGuy – USA) and Annette Mees (Coney – UK) invited me to be an online live writer (weaver) for their 2013 experimental narrative play that combined live and online participants: Horas Perditam. I was teamed with two “threaders” on the street, who I guided from afar through the streets of London. They shared photos and stories of their adventure and I wrote a live story around their artifacts. Ken and Annette then invited me to create an online interactive story inspired by the previous experiment. This will be published in their forthcoming magazine.

‘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

‘Bluebird AR’ for Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Bluebird AR is a serious alternate reality drama created by the Innovation Department at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). The project was the first ARG in the world created by a broadcaster that wasn’t linked to a television show. The subject matter was concerned with geoengineering, and involved real world experts in consultation during development and in public when the project was live. The project combined online, mobile, live events, TV, radio, and billboards over 6 weeks.I was a Transmedia Story & Game Advisor, brought in to consult with the writers, designers, programmers and marketing department during the development and production of the project.

– 2011 – Bluebird AR, Interactive Award, 44th Annual Australian Writers Guild Awards

– 2010 – Bluebird AR, Innovation Award, (Internal) ABC Awards

Case-study website: ABC

In-fiction video:

‘Love Referendum’ for Adelaide Fringe

Love Referendum is an alternate reality game (ARG) created by Tallstoreez for the 2008 Adelaide Fringe. In combined video clips, postcards and a website. The story was concerned with Adelaide being in the grip of a potentially fatal pandemic called lovesickness. In an urgent call to action, the Department of Deliberation is conducting a statewide referendum in December 2007. It asked the public to decide whether they are lovestruck or lovesick. It was financed in part by the Arts South Australian Public Art fund. I was a story and game advisor on the project working onsite and remotely with Carl Kuddell and Jennifer-Lyons Reid.