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!
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!
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!