Last night Lyric and I started Inanimate Alice after dinner. I say “started” because “read” doesn’t quite fit the activity of what we did and “played” doesn’t quite either. Being curious to see how she handled the computer and her level of computer literacy and her skill level in navigating unknown media, I let her “drive”.
The story started at a decent pace; it was engaging and drew us in almost immediately. We got through the first and second story by clicking our way through the double arrows. The second story was much more visually dynamic, with lots of on-screen movement and a great soundtrack and a mini-game. It occurred to both of us as being a rather dark story, with the soundtrack being at ominous at times. The third story, which really picked up the pace, was about 15 minutes and included a game – you have to click on all of the Matryoshka dolls that are hidden in the scenery to open a mini-game in which you direct Brad to catch another Matryoshka doll. Each major scene has one. Lyric and I took turns pointing them out to each other. She figured out that you can tell whether you have found the doll in that scene by whether the doll in the sidebar is grayed out or not. If it’s still gray – you haven’t found it. She is familiar with the style of game – the puzzle/hunt game by playing the Nancy Drew games by Her Interactive.
The fourth story was supposed to take 30 minutes but took us about 20. It was much more involved, allowing many more opportunities for clicking and investigation using different visual clues. The need for multitasking significantly increased. There was a section that showed Polaroid pictures of countries where other students were from and they kept passing by on the screen, getting larger each time. It occurred to me that we were supposed to click on them and I said so to Lyric. They opened into another view. By the end of this story, it was a good thing that Brad was around to give us clues, which Lyric was not shy about using. It would have taken a lot longer for me to get through the building if she hadn’t been so free with them.
So – What literacies do young people need to critically read digital content like this? To create such content?
- Story comprehension.
- Being able to follow directions and hints online.
Example – Alice needed to get dressed to go out into the cold. There was a silhouette of a girl figure and a articles of winter clothing floating on the screen. Lyric kept clicking on the clothes but they didn’t go onto the silhouette. Why? She didn’t do it in the right order, which was dictated by a hint – which looked like this
- long johns
- Multitasking reading the story, watching the animations progress, listening to the soundtrack, looking for specific objects.
- To notice elements that show up repeatedly or behave differently than others – a sign to click or interact with them. Like the Matryoshka dolls and the Polaroid Pictures.
- Symbol and Menu interpretation.
- Spatial reasoning – to get through the building at the end of story 4.
What would it take to create such content?
- Access to images.
- Access to and skill in knowing how to use an image-modification software like Photoshop. (Did you know that you can rent a Photoshop license by month? Very handy!
- Access to and skill in knowing how to use a music editing software.
- Skill in knowing how to create User Interfaces, engaging stories, how to put something up on the internet, how to draw, create games and or mini-games.
QUESTION – We are totally intrigued by these and would love to be able to finish the series. Where can we get stories 5-10?