Our new game, The Wind and the Weather, is an interactive story about Amy Johnson.
Our game was commissioned by the Amy Johnson Festival, as part of their series of twelve new writing commissions exploring different aspects of Amy’s life. It takes ten or fifteen minutes to play, and focuses on the last few hours of Johnson’s journey.
This was a fascinating project to work on, with two big issues that we had to consider.
Firstly, how could we make a game that reflects the tension of the journey when everyone knows that it ended okay? We decided we couldn’t give players choices that would allow them to fail or go faster while still reflecting the journey properly – after all, Johnson made it to Australia, and she made it in around twenty days.
Secondly, how could we fit in even half of the interesting things that happened on the journey, let alone its surrounding context in Johnson’s life and the world at large? We’d gathered anecdotes from sources including a book of Johnson’s own, Sky Roads of the World; Madge Gillies Amy Johnson: Queen of the Air, covering Johnson’s whole life; Liz Millward’s Women in British Imperial Airspace 1922-1937, addressing her journey and its dependence on the context of British imperialism; chapters in other books, articles from the time, letters, telegrams, and more. And we wanted to cram as much of this as possible into the game – without making it take longer than 15 minutes to play.
In the end we settled on a structure that positions the player near the end of Johnson’s journey, but invites them to explore different aspects of the twenty days of flight preceding this moment. Play decisions are about what to explore, not what to do. This also meant we didn’t have to give up on too many of the stories of the flight.
This was such a fascinating commission to work on. I’m from Australia, and was due to visit family there at the same time that we were researching Amy Johnson. Even now it’s a strange long journey, and thinking about Amy’s journey while sitting on the commercial airlines she disapproved of was a really startling way of beginning to think about the project.