Even the most ordinary element of the most mundane of houses can carry within it memories and layers of culture and history, meanings and symbols
– Edwin Heathcote
Avian Avenue is an interactive story about an ordinary street of terraced houses in Stoke on Trent. It takes the form of a richly-illustrated computer game, drawing upon local stories in a vivid and fantastical way.
A Victorian terraced house in Stoke on Trent. Entering the house (as an avian avatar, a tiny, fluttering bird), you discover a puzzle that needs to be solved in order to assist the inhabitants of the house. Just who those inhabitants are is deciphered through examining their belongings: their choice of furniture and furnishings, their precious objects and family mementoes. The game subtly reveals the myriad of stories hidden behind closed doors – their tragedies and joys, sorrows and yearnings. Through completing a practical puzzle, and delving deeper into the fabric of life within the house you fly around, you reveal a series of deeper mythologies illuminating the history and inhabitation of this home, this town, this century.
The anthropologist Daniel Miller contends that you can extrapolate more about a person from the objects they own and their relationship to them, than they will tell you in words. The game, therefore, is about exploring a character’s possessions and using these to tell stories about their life and their relationships, and the wider political period in which they are situated. Avian Avenue uses these immediate, visually rich but everyday environments to illuminate the lives lived therein. It tells a human story through the home.
Avian Avenue is love-letter to the everyday, using the texture and feeling of the familiar mixed with the fantastical to tell a human and cultural story, through a unique gaming experience.
Level 1 takes place in Stoke-on-Trent. Dovetail Foundry have spent the past year in Stoke gathering stories and looking into the history of the city, to produce the opening chapter of Avian Avenue: Stoke-On-Trent 1988.
Work for this phase was commissioned by the Arts Council and Appetite. Appetite is led by the New Vic Theatre in partnership with B Arts, Brighter Futures, Partners in Creative Learning and Staffordshire University.
With Dovetail Foundry.
Creative Producer: Amanda Lwin
Writer-Director: Joanna Coates
Illustrator: Sam Caldwell
Animation: Peter Baynton