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Books keep on morphin’ into the future: A new Alice

My colleague from London, Alan Mills, wrote this week to share a new type of narrative experience with me.

InanimateAlice is a serialized, interactive, Web-based story following young protagonist Alice from age 8 to age 20, as she moves with her family around the world.  The first three episodes of this edgy mystery take her to China, Italy, and Russia.

Written and directed by award-winning novelist Kate Pullinger and digital artist Chris Joseph, the work consists of multimedia episodes that incorporate text, sound, funky music, images, and games.  Episodes grow more challenging, reflecting Alice’s growing ability, as she emerges as a successful game animator.

Throughout her journey, Alice is inspired and kept company by her only friend, Brad, the skater character she designs and animates on her console.  The BradField Company, Alice’s creators, note that this interesting relationship presents:

a study of human/computer relations in a world where having friends means never having to meet them.

The first installments of Alice’s story are free. 

Alan explains the pricing:

The price is going to be an all-time site licence for £99.  Pretty incredible. There will be more software (simple cartooning) available with installments 6 and 7 which will be charged for but the stories online will continue to be free.

Is it a book? A game?  A digital story?  Interactive video?

I don’t really care.  I love the variety of creative strategies we now have to tell, share, and publish our stories. I know a number of young people, devoted and reluctant readers alike, who will be most open to new and emerging ways to engage in reading. 

My bigger hope is that this work (the work of Alice herself) will inspire young people to use their talents to create story on their own, to continue to push the growth narrative formats.

Episode 1 China

Episode 2 Italy

Episode 3 Russia

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza


  1. Alan Mills says:

    Thanks for this Joyce. We are showing this tremendous resource to our 3500 schools in the UK because part from being wonderful, it is also FREE!
    The software that we will be selling will allow learners to create their own stories in the ALICE style. They can use the assets provided or bring their own in. Music, pictures and text. Very simple to use.
    Soon there will be an an online collection of ALICE stories created by learners from around the world.
    If you want to know more contact me

  2. mr chompchomp says:

    I’m working on a long post looking at interactive media and literacy (which itself is becoming more difficult to define). I wasn’t aware of IntimateAlice. Thanks for the post!

  3. To see really exciting new multimedia literacy try out Inanimate Alice. And its a free online resource!
    More an interactive piece of fiction than a traditional game, Inanimate Alice: Episode 4 continues the story of the young game animator as she leaves her home in Russia and travels abroad. Inanimate Alice serves as both entertainment and a peek into the future of literature as a fusion of multimedia technologies. The haunting images and accompanying music and text weave a remarkably gripping tale that must be experienced to be believed.
    And better still for schools there is a piece of software now available that allows learners to create their own stories. Valuable for all forms of literacy and this is being sold as a perpetual site licence for schools at £99

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