Picture games?

As part of last week’s talk on the changing landscape of children’s books, we talked about the increased visual literacy of kids, the explosion of graphics in children’s books, and the challenges and opportunities posed by apps and ebooks.

I showed two videos, both as examples of what picture books are competing against in the race to capture kids’ attention, and as examples of new ways in which stories can be told.

The Unfinished Swan is essentially a video game with picture book elements — you discover the story as you move through the game.

It’s quite absorbing, as a player, but as a writer — if you asked me to tackle a project like this tomorrow, I’d have no idea where to start. On the sliding scale between “book” and “game,” it’s definitely on the game side.

Then there are projects like The Unwanted Guest. Though still outside my comfort zone, I can at least imagine myself learning to think this way.

What do you think? Could you see yourself one day creating your tales as apps, or even interactive games? Because we may have to decide in coming years whether we’re authors only or whether we’re storytellers, in any medium.

2 thoughts on “Picture games?

  1. I think this is such a pertinent question in today’s market and thinking about tomorrow’s kids.

    In a project for school (the MACL program at UBC) I decided to design a video game, I had to justify all my design decisions with theory. I thought ok, I want to involve the environment and really make it an environmetally geared game.

    But when I stepped into the world of game design, checking out general game design documents, looking at the insurmountable task of ‘coding’ or at least being able to wrap my head around coding and what is possible with code, thinking about how to make it a multi-dimensional game, not just linear but where the action depends on choices… and realizing that to build the environment I might actually need a specialist to help me write it all out correctly..

    It’s huge. But it’s worth a try. Think of it as writing a choose your own adventure. Just do what you can and when you hit a bump, mark it down and keep going. Ignore code and focus on story, and the many different lines that the story can take, who it follows and how the kids might want to play it – do they get to design their own characters?

    I’d be interested in others’ responses too – what do you think? Would you give it a try?

  2. I think it would be fascinating, even as an exercise. After all, writing is all about allowing your characters to make choices that you wouldn’t necessarily make… this is the same idea, gone extreme. My head kinda hurts thinking about the logistics, though!

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