The Craft of the Cubes - Rory's Story Cubes®: Actions

The third blog in the Rory's Story Cubes® Craft of the Cubes blog series shows another icon from the Actions set, which is inspired by the 100 most used verbs in the English language. This icon represents the verbs Touch and Feel. The challenge in the early drawings for this icon was to place the emphasis on the character’s hands, rather than the face. You can see from the early sketches that an insect using it’s antennae was one possible icon for this combination of verbs. The insect is a cute little critter but the final icon effectively communicates the verbs as intended.

Rory's Story Cubes®: Actions

Monday, 17 August 2015

The Craft of the Cubes - Rory's Story Cubes®: Actions


The icons that appear on the Rory’s Story Cubes® Actions set were compiled from a list of the 100 most used verbs in the English language.

The icon which represents the verb ‘Steal’ came together very quickly.

The icon is a theatrical depiction of a thief, influenced by the illustrator, Rory O’Connor’s sense of humour.

This character who appears to be moving away from the scene of the crime with a box of gold, is a great element to add to any story and is a favourite among storytellers the world over!

Above you can see the first sketches ever made for this icon, and how the icon evolved from stealing from another icon's pocket to carrying a box of gold.

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Tuesday, 04 August 2015

The Craft of the Cubes - Rory's Story Cubes®:Originals

Many players of Rory’s Story Cubes® have asked how the icons on the cubes are selected and illustrated. In this weekly blog series you will get a sneak peak into the history of the icons.

The process of selecting icons is meticulous. Each icon is just 15mm or two thirds of an inch in diameter, which is just a little bigger than the top of your index finger! Think about how many different ways you have interpreted each icon. So many different meanings can come from such a small space. That is why every part of that space really has to work hard to convey meaning. Some of the icons on the first set of Rory’s Story Cubes® went from an initial sketch to being fully finished in a matter of hours while others took a number of days or even a week to complete!

‘L’ Icon

This icon represents an ‘L’ plate. An ‘L’ plate is a sticker which people learning to drive in Ireland and the UK must display on their car. Rory was surprised after Rory Story Cubes®: Originals were released in countries around the world that the icon was interpreted very differently to how he had intended. It has been interpreted as being an L shaped or large corner sofa, a room plan and also to indicate learning or a ‘learner’, which is not far from the original interpretation. As Rory’s Story Cubes®: Originals became more popular in countries around the world Rory became conscious that all the new icons should be well understood. The ‘L’ icon is still included in the sets to celebrate that the cubes were originally designed in Ireland.


This icon is of a bee - I think it is one of the easiest icons to add to a story. The bee has very clear human characteristics. It is one of the first animal icons added to the originals set, animals became a recurring theme later in the sets. As the sets developed Rory realised more and more how effective animals are in storytelling, he tries to add one to each set of Rory’s Story Cubes®.

Rory’s Story Cubes®: Originals, the set in the orange box, was the first completed- but did you know, not all of the icons which were on the first prototypes are the same as what you see on the set today!

Shadow Monster

In The Creativity Hub this icon is fondly known as the ‘shadow monster’. This icon first appeared in 2007, up until this time a different icon was in it’s place. The icon which appeared before 2007 represented events taking a turn for the worse, but after the then maker of the cubes raised personal concerns about the visual representation of this icon Rory had to figure out a new way to illustrate the meaning. The result was a new icon which would reflect ‘the shadow side of life - the bit we don’t want to face.’ The reason this icon is so important? ‘Even a child’s life has dark moments and can seem scary’. And Rory felt it was important that this would be represented in the originals set, as an integral element of storytelling.

The icons are best thought of as metaphors. They do not have one defined meaning, rather we encourage you to find your own meaning - and tell us all about it when you come across your favourite!

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Monday, 20 July 2015

Rory's Story Cubes and The Extraordinaires Design Studio at the UK Games Expo 2015

This past weekend Rory O'Connor, creator of Rory's Story Cubes visited the UK Games Expo in Birmingham.

Rory was at the Imagination Gaming Stand in the Family Zone, demoing The Extraordinaires Design Studio and Rory's Story Cubes.

Lots of fun was had, with an up-side-down apple, a beetle and a clock just some of the Rory's Story Cubes icons that were rolled over the weekend.

Thursday, 04 June 2015

Rory's Story Cubes at the #CodeforBetter Hackathon at the Ulster Museum

Over the weekend,the Ulster Museum was host to a 24 hour #CodeforBetter Hackathon extravaganza!

On Saturday morning a group of 70 developers, designers and Healthcare enthusiasts joined forces with a common goal - to design solutions for challenges facing the Healthcare sector.

The Creativity Hub's Education Marketing Officer, Eoin and Media Co-Ordinator, Aine, were on hand on Saturday morning to introduce the teams to the different ways to use Rory's Story Cubes as a creative problem solving tool.

There was a broad range of diverse projects developed over just 24 hours - from an educational game for kids based on teaching the food groups to an app to help asthmatics monitor their condition, with a number of teams working through the night to complete their projects.

One of the highlights of the event included a night time tour of the Ulster Museum. Participants of the Hackathon were shown some of the most popular sections of the museum, including the mummy Takabuti and the Elements exhibit which brings the visitor along the periodic table, and includes an interactive exhibition which displays elements which appear dull to the eye, sparkling under UV light.

A warm thanks to organisers of the event, Total Mobile, for including Rory's Story Cubes as a creative problem solving tool.

More information about the Hackathon is available at

Tuesday, 14 April 2015