Creating The Shadow of the Future

Coney was commissioned by Imperial War Museums to create a interactive game to get Key Stage 4 history students thinking critically and creatively about the Cold War. We set to work creating a game and a story called The Shadow of the Future, a site-specific interactive game designed for Imperial War Museum Duxford. But more from the project’s producer Natalie, as it’s developed from June this year until now:

Over the summer months, I’ve been producing a very exciting new project for Coney: The Shadow of the Future, an interactive experience for the Imperial War Museum. We’re in the final stages of completing the project and very close to launching with IWM, but in the meantime, we wanted to share a little about what we’ve been making, how it’s developed and our process, and the incredible team that have been working around the clock (literally) to get it on its feet.

The Shadow of the Future

A classroom of 30 students are recruited as newly appointed Scientists at the RAND Corporation. They’re thrown into high level and tactical l decision making in the middle of the Cold War – WWIII is on the cusp of starting and they have to decide what the best course of action is. How they do this? Well…

They play games.

Guided by the ‘Professor’ living inside the world of the playable device and screens, they have just 50-minutes to learn a new game in 3 teams, playing over several rounds. Along the way they get to meet John F Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev, as well as explore some of the fascinating exhibitions in the American Air Museum at IWM Duxford, guided by Coney’s Magic Phone Platform Technology.    

The brief:
Coney were commissioned by IWM to respond and develop a format for schools to use as they explore IWM Duxford, our focus has been the Cold War for a Key Stage 4 (14-16 year olds) audience.

Whatever we created:

  1. Had to take place on site – we chose the American Air Museum, where inspirational stories of 85 men and women whose lives have been shaped by war exist, and where 18 epic original aircraft with which they were linked are housed.
  2. Had to be self-guided by classrooms and their teachers – so we thought we’d make a ‘pop out-of-the-box’ game using playable technology and an engaging story.
  3. Had to have clear learning objectives – these include: Investigating how decisions were made during the Cold War; Understanding the consequences of these decisions; Thinking about the impact of those decisions on society.

The team and the process:
Associate in Residence and games-designer genius, David Finnigan, kicked off the project and created the game and the mechanics, to underpin the whole experience. We tested the game with the Alec Hunter Academy in July so we could understand how it played, and most of all if it was fun to play. Designer Ben Jones joined the team in August to design the overall aesthetic of the experience, working closely with David and I to create visual elements for the playable tech, as well as the physical elements for the game pieces in the box.

A sneak peek at the design for the decision cards:
Screen Shot 2017-11-03 at 13.03.30

We were joined by the ever-imaginative Artist and Associate of Coney, Toby Peach, in September who created the story and the narrative for the experience, working closely with David on the script. At the end of September we presented a scratch version to the IWM team where we tested how the game, narrative and design played on site.

What became clear is that we were missing a key maker, incoming the brilliant Artist Gareth Damian-Martin, who built the platform where the experience could be hosted and played. With Coney Director Tassos Stevens as Ear from afar throughout. And not to mention our three excellent voice artists: Alexey Averkin, Jessica Latowicki and Richard Popple, here’s Toby and Jess in action recording ‘The Professor’: 


Last week we had a piloting day with two school groups on site at IWM Duxford to test the overall experience with actual 14-16 year olds! And it was incredible to see it all play for real, to hear their feedback and to watch how they experience the game, the AAM exhibitions and the story.

Producing The Shadow of the Future has been an incredibly rewarding experience: from proposal writing to learning all about the Cold War (for a second time!); working closely with a superb creative team to working through the challenge of creating a standalone theatrical experience; and working collaboratively with IWM to ‘trial and error’ various tech and devices… it’s been a wonderful journey with everyone involved. Toby and Tassos post piloting Ear session:Unknown-4

As we move into November, we’re now in the final stage of project with tweaking happening, before we launch the experience with IWM in the coming weeks.

More soon as the project moves forward*.

*The Shadow of the Future can be played by school groups of GCSE History students at Imperial War Museums Duxford from November 2017, send us an email if you would like to find out more.

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>