New Manchester - A Database World Building Project.
Updated: Dec 12, 2019
Inspired by the dystopia that litters popular fiction, and a special nod to the Alan Moore’s classic V for Vendetta, the database is a world onto itself. New Manchester, while initially designed for a university project, later took on a life of its own when that project fell through. In short, New Manchester is what could have been if United Kingdom been left to its own devices after World War Two. A terrifying glimpse at how a well intended mission for peace can devolve into totalitarian control.
The database is a new take on world building, addressing the culture and surroundings from an in world perspective. My aim with this was to try and see the world through the eyes of the people, more specifically through the eyes of a government on the brink of collapse. The Democratic People’s Alliance is the sole party left in a broken Britain, trying to cling on to post war optimism in the face of a crumbling empire.
The format was inspired by wikipedia, fandom wikis and similar online encyclopedias. The use of interlinked passages and menu formatting gave a simple way to interact.
There was a lot about this world that was inspired by the late seventies and eighties, from the political climate at the height of Thatcherism to the clothing and style of the people. I’ve tried to take the core elements that made that time period so fascinating and expand out on them. I’ve done all this while maintaining the perspective of those in charge, something which is done less in media than the opposite, taking the view of a singular rebel. By threading through small elements of resistance and dissonance I’m aiming to make it clear that something is wrong, but not make it clear what that is.
When developing the database I learned that there is a lot that needs clarifying, small details that can be added to make your vision clearer. This evolved the piece past a series of individual passages and into a unified ‘wikipedia’ for a country that could have been. It’s these small details that, in my opinion, elevate a world from a scene in engine to a living place.
I found most of these details by reading the passages in the database and asking what struck me as interesting. People, places and events that could be explained just a little more as well as small notes of flavour for the piece.
In summary, the database takes the strengths of modern encyclopedias and combines it with a sinister world that we narrowly avoided. It’s a piece I’m proud of, a world I enjoyed creating and exploring and it’s a concept that I believe I executed well.