We caught up with, Sian Davies, the brave soul who took on the Weeping Angels to produce Don't Blink.
What is Don't Blink?
It’s a mini-game in which you get to take on the Weeping Angels, one of the scariest monsters from Doctor Who. You’re stuck in the attic of an abandoned house and the Weeping Angels are coming to get you. The Angels look like harmless, if rather grotesque, statues but they can move when you look away or even blink. If they catch you they send you back in time. No pressure then!
The aim of the game is to survive until the Doctor can send the TARDIS to save you. To help, he’s rigged up your webcam to CCTV around the house so you can watch the Weeping Angels. Providing you keep your eye on them, this will slow them down. It's not for the fainthearted and it’s quite challenging controlling the CCTV camera while trying not to look away from your webcam, and of course not blinking! Oh, and one of the Angels has the key to the TARDIS so you need to grab that too before you can escape.
Where did the idea for Don't Blink come from?
We’re always looking for new ways to extend the Doctor Who universe, but the idea for a webcam-based game came from a chance conversation between our Head of Innovation, Robin Moore, and BBC Research and Development about a prototype they had made called the 'Blinkatron'. It was a physical installation that used infrared lights and sensors to detect when someone blinks.
We wanted to see whether we could make this work for our audiences online. 'Blinkatron' creator and R&D technologist, Matt Shotton, was able to prove that this was possible using a desktop webcam. So, the Drama Digital team in Wales commissioned Aardman Animations to create a game that used this experimental game controller. They came up with the CCTV idea, adding the challenge of finding the key to the TARDIS. It is their beautiful design that really brings this experience to life.
What are you hoping to learn from this experiment?
The main thing we wanted to know was whether we could use the webcam as a game controller. It will also be interesting to see whether users will share their results on Twitter and Facebook. During the game the webcam takes a photo of your ‘fright face’ which you can share together with the length of time you survived in the attic. We’re hoping this will challenge others to play.
What was the hardest thing?
This was probably getting the balance right in terms of difficulty. We were keen to produce a short throwaway game that the audience would play more than once. We wanted them to work for it, but not so much that it would put them off! I think we’ve achieved this by keeping the premise quite simple, but I'm sure we'll learn more from the feedback we get from the pilot.