Victoriana: the development process begins

My name is Hugh Dichmont. I have been commissioned by UK-based independent development house Spacehopper Studios, to develop the story for a five part interactive story/game for mobile devices. The game is to be part “choose your own adventure” novel, with in-built mini-games. These blog posts are to give you a bit of insight into my creative process, creating the story world for the game.

Writing, I have found, is a process that, more than anything else, teaches me how little I know and understand about the world.

I decided fairly early on in my contact with Spacehopper Studios, that the game I wanted to write would be based in Victorian England. From what little I understood, I knew the 19th century was a time which in many ways gave birth to capitalism, and heralded a distinct push towards the modern era.

I started my research with the Norton Anthology of English Literature, which gave me a broad understanding of key social trends of the time, and some key dates. Here are some interesting things I learnt.

From The Norton Anthology:

“(It was a time of change that) brought England to its highest point of development as a world power.”

Between 1830 an 1901 London grew from 2 million inhabitants, to 6.5 million, and was “one of many indications of the most important development of the age: the shift away from a way of life based on the ownership of land to a modern urban economy based on trade and manufacturing.”

It was a time notable for: “Steam power exploited for fast railways and iron ships, looms, printing presses, and farmers’ combines… the introduction of the telegraph, intercontinental cable, photography, anaesthetics, and universal compulsory educations… transforming the minds and habits of the ordinary English gentleman.”

There is so much to work from! England was the “world’s workshop”, but at the same time, there was a great deal of suffering, as the poor adjusted to their new lifestyle working for ‘The Man’ in factories: sometimes as much as sixteen hours a day, in terrible conditions. Even some children as young as five had jobs!

It was a time when the rich got richer, whilst the poor, often living in hell-like slums, crammed together in squalor, were worked to the bone, to earn a living wage that felt at times more like a “lingering, dying wage”.

Besides industry, science made giant leaps, with Charles Darwin’s revolutionary ‘The Origin of Species’ bringing new questions to the Victorian’s sense of faith and reality.

As well as the Norton Anthology, I was pointed towards a fantastic online resource-, which has presented me with lots of material to develop characters and scenarios. Watch this space for developments in my future posts, giving more clues about what direction I will be taking with it.

The research is going well. Over the next month, I will try and draw in as much as I can, as there really is a wealth of material to build an exciting story from, for our gamers to explore. Here are a couple keywords to whet your appetites a little… Freak Shows… Industrial Sabotage…