My roles on this cross-platform digital fiction:
I directed "ALICE ON EVERLOOP" a presence for the character and her virtual friend Brad on a social media site for tweens. I adopted the voice of Alice and engaged directly with her young audience and wrote interactive journals, narratives, mini-games, and other content for her Loop (like a personal page).
I learned a boatload about audience engagement, social media strategy, transmedia storytelling, and the 24/7 cycle that is digital publishing. (And about tween idols. ;-)
The platform folded, but I now know a whole lot to SHARE WITH YOU as a consultant or content creator.
I conceived and crafted a successful proposal for Education Services Australia (ESA) to create ALICE TRAVEL JOURNALS to teach Indonesian and Japanese languages and culture.
I am deeply proud of these unique, complex, multi-layered creations, a blend of fiction (Alice's adventures abroad) and nonfiction (cultural and language information about the target countries). My role:
- gathered hundreds of images, sounds, video clips, other assets
- crafted and wrote narratives for Alice's journeys
- designed the 22 narrative language games (in Indonesian and Japanese!)
- worked with domain experts (several wonderful and dedicated language teachers in Australia!)
- managed the project, the creative technologist, and freelancers.
The first five Inanimate Alice episodes were created on a very low budget and kept simple and short as a result, with very linear narratives.
I wondered: What would an episode look like with a deeper and more complex story and characters, an expanded creative team, and a more robust tech platform?
When I joined as narrative designer for EPISODE 6: THE LAST GAS STATION, my aim was to bring Alice into the commercial mainstream and to introduce far more player agency (choice-based consequences).
First, I analyzed and synthesized the entire Alice story world (episodes, journals, strategy, educational outreach, marketing avenues) and crafted a dynamic and flexible design document, with an eye toward building it into a story bible for the brand as a whole.
Then, I shaped and mapped the story world with an emphasis on audience-forward design and greater character depth.
The final challenge was to build up and deepen the storytelling strengths by adding more intense emotional arcs to the structure and layers of meaning to dialogue, character behavior, and interactives.
With a switch to Unity 3D, a new choice became: do you "play as Alice" (see the world through her eyes) or play as a "friend of Alice"—going along on her adventure while making choices and taking actions that she might or might not like?
Alice is a remote and mysterious girl (we never see her face). She grew up traveling the world as an only child, constantly leaving new friends behind. She thinks she wants to be independent and yet inwardly yearns for a trusted, lasting friend that she won't EVER lose.
That role, the friend of mysterious Alice, is the magic of the series—what hooked young fans. I thought it should be the root goal of the game:
As a potential friend of Alice, can you earn her trust and respect through the choices you make? And keep it? The more you know and understand Alice, the more she opens up to you. If you fall out of favor, she clams up and just might leave you behind (ouch!).
This narrative approach would keep Alice's personality and values strong (and consistent) and make the relationship between Alice and player dynamic throughout the 10 planned episodes. In short, the friendship would keep changing and the player would keep unearthing insights into the mysterious Alice, but Alice herself would always be Alice.
Interactive storytelling and narrative design are what I know, what I can do, and where I best shine. That's the messy, complex sandbox that I most love playing in.
My career dovetails with a very rare place and time when it was possible to explore and experiment with this brand new medium freely.
I wrote my first digital narrative and video game scripts in the 1980s for Scholastic and then moved onto CD-Roms in the 1990s.
My appetite for the form has only grown.
I am a writer-game designer, melded.