Inanimate Alice Episode 3 called Russia is a part of an award–winning online Flash fiction novel composed by Kate Pullinger and Chris Joseph. Various episodes of the story follow the life of Alice, young world-traveler and future game developer. Like two previous parts, the episode Russia is presented in a digital manner and combines written and animated texts constantly followed by music and games.
As in all Inanimate Alice’s episodes, location plays an extremely important role in creating the mood of the story. In episode 3 Alice finds herself in Russia while her father works in oil company. The atmosphere of this episode is intensive because of the dark colors dominating the visuals and the velocity of a car that sporadically appears in the scenes.
Inanimate Alice uses Flash as a platform. The episodes are designed in such a way that the reader needs to adjust to the reading pace set by the story, i.e. the reader needs to wait for each part to complete before proceeding to a new chapter. In episode 3, Russia the reader is given the option to just read or to read and play in the work. Semiotic use of icons to navigate back and forth between the chapters of an episode also seems to prevail here.
Inanimate Alice includes both visual as well as verbal narrative for. Its graphic narrative along with sound designed to complement each chapter help to create the mood for the reader. For example, fast tempo sound beats suits when the plot is creating tension. The boundary between story and game blurs as the reader is constantly switched between following the story and playing a game.
For the narration, the work has maps, small video clips, pictures and other visual elements along with lines of text. If the user chooses to read and play option, he is given an objective to collect traditional Russian dolls–Matryoskas as the chapters proceed. This function demands keen observation from the reader as well. Inanimate Alice is designed in such a way that the user’s reading and playing is needed to continue the story.
Reading Inanimate Alice at first glance it seems that the medium is as important as the narrative but Pullinger herself notes that the story always comes first: "As a writer, the challenge of my work is to make sure the story hooks people in, or they will just click 'exit' instead of moving on to the next page or section - the same as any other of fiction or drama. It's all about good stories, well-told, whatever the medium." (Down with Alice, Michelle Pauli, guardian.co.uk)
This entry was drafted by students in Maria Engberg's Language Studies II course, part of the Bachelor of Science program Digital Culture and Communication at Blekinge Institute of Technology (Sweden) during the spring of 2012.