Inanimate Alice Episode 2: Italy is part of an online animated interactive fiction novel created by Kate Pullinger and Chris Joseph. The series follows the life of Alice, a young girl (aged 10 in Episode 2) who aspires to become a video game developer. The story is presented in the form of a Flash animation with simple interactive elements. The presentation is multimodal, including sound, animation, video, kinetic text, and simple mini-games. The series is aimed at a younger audience, and commercial releases of the series are available as educational packages. The series is used in schools to teach multimodal literacy and problem solving skills. As each episode takes place in a different country, the series also serves to introduce cultural diversity. While the narration is simple, it often alludes to more mature themes. These themes range from simple, domestic concerns, such as being teased by friends, to larger issues like gender inequality in Saudi Arabia.
Episode 2 of the Inanimate Alice series takes place in a ski chalet in Italy. The story opens with Alice alone at the chalet, waiting for her parents to return. She begins to worry that they are lost. She occupies time by playing games on her mobile device and interacting with Brad – an animated skateboarding avatar created by Alice. Brad acts as an imaginary friend and guiding voice throughout the series. Alice eventually calls her tutor Ayisha, back home in Saudi Arabia, for reassurance. This sequence alludes to Alice’s life at home in a compound in Saudi Arabia. Mid-conversation, Alice remembers that she was meant to snowboard down to the ski school to eat, then return to the chalet by snowmobile. She ends the call with Ayisha and decides to walk down to the school. She puts on her snow gear and begins her trek. Soon, she loses sight of the chalet and falls into the deep snow. She begins to panic but is reassured by the voice of Brad in her head. He encourages her to calmly sit up, and she emerges from the snow. At this moment, her parents walk up and find her, surprised to see her at the chalet already.
Like other entries in the Inanimate Alice series, Episode 2 is shown through Alice’s eyes. Certain events, such as Alice playing games on her device, and Alice getting geared up to go outside, are presented as mini-games for the reader to participate in. These games are relatively simple, given the intended audience as well as the platform. The use of Flash allows for a multimodal presentation, controlled to some degree by the reader. The reader clicks buttons to progress the story, and once sections have been viewed, they can be returned to. Interactive moments – the mini-games – must be completed in order to progress the story. In later episodes, the option to view the story without engaging in the game elements has been included. Music, as well as occasional sound effects, serve to build the atmosphere of the story.
This entry was drafted by participants at the Introduction to Electronic Literature course at DHSI 2017 at the University of Victoria.
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