Friday, June 24, 2005

EP Category 3: Interactive fiction and storytelling

The category Interactive fiction and storytelling did not attract too many entries. But the ones that were entered were of high quality. It is also typical that the companies that enter productions always think that it should be productions for children. Interactive storytelling does not yet solicit entries like games such as or the CD-ROM Ceremony of Innocence. Recently when I was judging for the EPPY Awards (mainly newspapers) I saw a fine example of digital storytelling. To me in fact it was a digital monument to the victims of The Madrid bombing in 2004, produced by the Spanish newspaper El Pais. In The Netherlands I have not seen the likes of such a production yet, not by newspapers, magazines or any digital production yet. Who knows some day we may be surprised.

The nominations for this category were:

Pluk van de Petterflet is an evergreen for Dutch children. Originally it was pictural storybook, recently turned into a succesful movie and now converted into a CD-ROM production. In the story, children step in the shoes of Pluk and meet the animal friends of the movie. They learn writing and counting while playing. This CD-Rom was developed by IJsfontein, accompany which produces CD-Roms, websites and other interactive products and is specialised in productions for children. When Pluk van de Petteflet is started up, you see a square with signposts containing various icons. They can be clicked on in order to start a game. These games vary from counting with a werewolf to juggling with Zaza’s apples. With the games, the varying age of children is kept in mind, so for every child there’s something to enjoy, from 3 to 7 years old. Children who can not read, can play without any problems, as there is spoken help for every game. The voices are spoken by the same people as in the movie, like Karin Bloemen, Marc-Marie Huijbrechts and Dolf Jansen. The CD-Rom is protected with a children’s lock, so it can only be exited when a password is entered. In this way, children can be left alone with the game, without any risk that they’ll do something harmful to the computer. The cd can also be played in an audio cd player so that a child can listen to all the songs from the movie.

IJsfontein Interactieve Media– Sketch Studio
IJsfontein has developed Sketch Studio as an interactive flash game. This online game combines education and entertainment. The user is able to create his own sketch by handling the creative user interface which contains five simple steps. The sketch contains not only a background and attributes but also characters who are known from the Dutch educational television program called Klokhuis. After building the actual sketch, the user is able to attribute actions to the persons and add sounds to the sketch. The user can also use his own voice in the sketch. When the user is done he can create a leader and save the created sketch. After the sketch has been saved, the sketch can be mailed as an e-card. With Sketch Studio kids have the opportunity to create their own web content and share it with other children. They also learn how sketches are produced, how humour works and they get familiar with the internet. Sketch Studio shows a new way of storytelling and of learning through the internet. IJsfontein has created an advanced e-learning flash application that fits the target group. By using the original characters of the television program Klokhuis it also creates a link with the program and an extension to it.

The funny thing about the nominations was that both entries were produced by IJsfontein. So it was an internal competition for the company, but not for the companies that placed the order. Despite the fact that Pluk of the Petterflet is a national juvenile monument, it was not selected as category winner. Sketch Studio was the winner. Technically this entry was very interesting, but also as entertainment it is a winner. The website is an extension of a television program; so themes can extended to the website, but also viewers’ contribution can become part of the television show.

(BTW Just got an e-mail from my Finnish friend Cai. He tells me that he is shtting up his computer for the weekend as it is "Juhannus"-eve, the mid-summer festival in Finland. Towns close down, everybody goes to countryside with families and friends, burn huge "kokko"-fires under the mid-night sun, get drunk and sink into one of the 165.000 lakes. Happy Johannus eve, my Finnish friends!)

This is Cai sitting next to our Portugese friend Conceicao Casanova.

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