The entertainment and social environments today’s young people are exposed to are multi-dimensional and urgent while educational perspectives remain singular in dimension and pedestrian. The concept of teaching reading and creative writing using game techniques offers the prospect of resolving that problem.

What it does

An immersive contemporary tale that employs game-like techniques to stimulate screen-based reading and inspire student creativity, Inanimate Alice is the coming-of-age story of a girl growing up to become a game designer. Targeting adolescents and their educators, the progressive complexity of the unfolding narrative affords accessibility from elementary to tertiary education. Inanimate Alice makes reading and creative writing every bit as exciting as playing games.

The story of an itinerant mixed-race family travelling the world in pursuit of opportunity, it talks of multicultural societies and empathy. It investigates societal issues like peer pressure and identity in a highly-connected world. Students feel compelled to get involved. They interrogate episodes of the series, concluding “I can do that” and cannot wait to commit weeks of collaborative effort. Thousands of examples have been developed – just a small selection is available from the website.

How the team built it

Like life itself, this is a work of progressive complexity. Each element in the series, each episode and season, mirrors Alice’s age and digital competency. We first meet Alice when she is 8 years of age and living in a yurt in China. The series is planned to close with Alice becoming a successful game designer in the Big City at the edge of the world. At the outset, the team compiled a 10 episode story bible that has guided the construction process and kept us on mission. Incorporating graphics, text, images, music and sound effects, with movie elements and games the early episodes were developed using Flash, transitioning to Unity by the time Alice had reached 16 years of age.

Challenges we ran into

With incremental complexity comes increased costs hence attracting sufficient funding to complete the work remains a considerable challenge. Building and maintaining a user community is a hurdle to be overcome.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

Inanimate Alice was the first born-digital narrative to be chosen for Australia's national digitally-delivered curriculum. It is the first to be selected for Portugal's National Reading Plan.

Perhaps most importantly, for me, is that the work is meaningful to educators and learners all around the world. It opens windows on places most folks will likely never have the opportunity to visit. In Jakarta, it attracts poor students to a free school; for university students in Russia it provides an investigation into modern literature; it resonates with the children of Syrian refugees arriving in Toronto

What I learned

Patience in the relentless pursuit of a clearly-defined goal. As a good friend of the project said "Inanimate Alice is a marathon, not a sprint."

What's next for One Book: One World, the story of Inanimate Alice

An interdisciplinary team, the Inanimate Alice Research Group, has been established. With the publication of the Research Group's paper, we have taken the opportunity to refresh the website providing a whitepaper and Alice's Map together with our publication under 3 buttons. The whitepaper provides a background read to the title and its applications in education.

Now, it is time to build on prospects and strive for a vision for the future of education in a creative environment that provides opportunities for young audiences to discuss matters of interest and importance to them in settings which they recognize as authentic. Welcome to Big City Life the Grand Finale to the Inanimate Alice series.

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