Hazel Grian

Placement at HP Labs Bristol

In 2006, Hazel Grian* spent six months in HP Labs in Bristol in the Mobile and Media Systems Lab. With an open brief to collaborate with researchers around video on mobile devices, Hazel focussed on the narrative possibilities of Alternate Reality Games (ARGs), which use interactive narrative across many different platforms using multiple media and game elements, to tell a story that may be affected by participants' ideas or actions.


"I really wanted a chance to work side by side with technologists. The outcome was great; I was inspired by their application of forward-looking ideas into actual technology. They seemed to welcome my input of creative ideas from an outsider's viewpoint,” said Hazel.


In January 2007, Hazel launched MeiGeist, an ARG created from the research undertaken as part of the residency. Blending fiction with reality by telling its story across different media including websites, text message, live events and email, 30,000 people around the world took part in the game which lasted eight weeks. An overview of the game can be found at


Hazel (described by The Simpsons' creator Matt Groening as ‘a funny filmmaking genius’) describes the concept: "Playing Meigeist means you follow a really entertaining story with great characters, very much set in the real world with a few sci-fi additions.


“You won’t have to pretend you’re a wizard or open a virtual bank account in somewhere called Zordax or anything. There are loads of separate bits of video, puzzles and websites you can enjoy but of course it’s a lot more satisfying if you do the detective work and discover the whole story from beginning to end. What you will be able to do with Meigeist is have a go without  fear of it being totally beyond you and you’ll really feel you’re part of something cool."


Since completing the placement and game, Hazel has been recruited as a writer for Kate Modern, a new interactive drama from the makers of lonelygirl15, which launched on Bebo. She was also commissioned to create an mScape for HP labs, featuring characters from MeiGeist and has agreed a substantial further project with HP Labs around alternate reality games and located media.


Consequently, Hazel is about to launch her second big ARG in April (2008) commissioned by HP and different because it includes GPS and treasure hunts. Read the trailer here.


*Bristol-based artist and filmmaker Hazel Grian has made short films using video for the past 15 years. She is adept at moving between the worlds of genre movie (a horror short was commissioned by the UK Film Council), art movie (stop-frame animated shorts) and world tour stage visuals, for the likes of local band Portishead. As well as working with film, she has written and performed comedy and science fiction for BBC Radio.