An innovative project that will see Nottingham City Council’s Libraries Service work with The National Videogame Foundation to improve literacy and digital skills has been funded by Arts Council England (ACE) to the value of £226,235.

Other partners include the University of Nottingham and Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature.

‘Storysmash’ will start on 1 April and will deliver a 12 month programme of activities using the close connection between reading, creative writing as well as creative gaming to develop confidence, new skills and to address issues of low literacy in those aged 11-25 years in Nottingham City.

Participants will take part in six expert led creative gaming workshops, supported by creative writers and author visits. ‘Gaming Hotspots’ will be set up in libraries and around the city to deliver the project.

Workshops will take place in Aspley, Bulwell, Clifton and St Ann’s libraries, Nottingham Central Library, and HMP Nottingham where targeted work will take place to improve rehabilitation and reduce re-offending.

The project will include a festival where the City comes together to play and celebrate participants’ work. The showcase exhibition will be part of the GameCity Festival in October, attracting a footfall of over 10,000, in which the completed games will be shared in public spaces. This validates, rewards and encourage the efforts of participants as well as maximising access to their work.

‘Storysmash’ invites active participation in writing and developing new videogames through the art of storytelling. Participants will acquire an understanding of the importance of writing in creating games, building confidence in their own writing skills by crafting characters, alternate worlds and plots.

Libraries will be the hubs for this creativity, providing a safe, accessible learning environment, developing literacy confidence through the use of new technologies and digital platforms while The National Videogame Foundation will introduce workshops using free and accessible gaming tools such as Twine, Gamemaker and the programming language of Tads.

The content and audience of this project fits within the City Council’s ‘Creating Better Futures’ agenda and the Library Service’s role in encouraging people to ‘Learn, Discover, Explore, Create and Connect’.

Cllr Dave Trimble – Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture said; “We’re delighted that ‘Storysmash’ has been awarded funding. This will mean we can offer all sorts of opportunities for young people across the city. There will be something for everybody. Partnering with the National Videogame Arcade means our libraries service can engage people in reading and improve their literacy in a really novel way. I am very excited to see the kind creativity that develops.”

Iain Simons – Director – National Videogame Foundation said; “At the National Videogame Foundation we celebrate, preserve and interpret videogames for everyone. The Foundation aims to inspire people to make videogames, start new conversations about them, and find new ways in which they can contribute to culture, society and education.

The ‘Storysmash’ programme offers the library sector in the city the chance to reflect on its development needs, but it also allows space for action research and trialling some new ways of working with literacy, which we are very interested in being involved with. From our experience, there is huge potential for growth here with the support of investment and imaginative thinking to thrive and become genuinely distinctive. This programme is shaped specifically to achieve this and we support it wholeheartedly.”

Sandeep Mahal – Director, Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature said; “I am thrilled and delighted that Arts Council England are supporting Nottingham City Libraries’ ambitious plans to transform the way they engage with young marginalised audiences. As a UNESCO City of Literature, we firmly believe that investing in literacy, especially among young people, is the key to improving their future life chances. ‘Storysmash’ is a vital project for young people to experience the power of creative writing and the power it can give them in building confidence and vital life skills. We look forward to working with Nottingham City Library Service and the National Videogame Arcade to make ‘Storysmash’ a success for the young people of the City.”

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For further information, please contact Jane Barton – Communication and marketing Officer on 0115 8761222 or email: