Hydras Like Stories investigates new methods for visualizing and understanding the unique qualities of multi-player narrative for improved multi-player narrative design in digital games. The work investigates how tool-making can operate as a non-prescriptive form of design research in an art-making context. Using the image of a many-headed, fantastic creature, the work makes the act of constructing multi-player narratives strange and open-ended. Each of the free-standing modules that comprise the tool encourages the user to explore an unknown, drawing on practices of critical design to unravel and investigate the assumptions of use embedded in the software object.
Ben Spalding is an MFA student studying multiplayer games as sites of collaborative storytelling at UC Santa Cruz's Digital Arts and New Media program. He creates games and software tools as part of his design practice. Spalding is a UCSC Arts Division and Plantronics Creativity and Innovation Scholar. Before coming to Santa Cruz, he studied Media, Culture, and Communications at New York University, taking additional minors in both Game Design and Creative Writing. In addition to his work as a designer, he has taught game design programs for middle and high school students in Santa Cruz and New York City.