BobbekinWorld: building interactive children’s stories in SL

Last week, Dawny Daviau (Sylvia Thevissen in rl) nudged me about a project she’s involved in, and which is being developed by a team led by SL machinima maker Chantal Harvey and the creator of R2D2, Tony Dyson, working under their Netdreamer Publications brand. At the time I made a note of things – and then promptly forgot in the rush to sort-out bits and bobs for Fantasy Faire coverage.

Fortunately, Saffia Widdershins over at Prim Perfect didn’t, and she has a good write-up on the project, which Chantal and Tony call BobbekinWorld.

This is a series of children’s e-books which use advanced animation and combine video, music and still images of cute little characters called Bobbekins. The team use a range of media – including Second Life –  in which to create the stories, with “Toy City” being an actual sim inside SL.

The books are designed to be immersive, fun and have a teaching exercise or theme to the stories, the idea being to make full use of the digital medium to engage children in a visual, interactive style.

Currently, the first book in the series has been developed, and an Indiegogo kickstarter has been set-up to help with financing the project. Some $15,000 is required to bring the project to life. Those donating to the cause receive a range of benefits according to their level of contribution. The indiegogo page includes an excellent Q&A to the project, featuring Tony Dyson. In it, he not only explains why the team believe that e-books are an ideal medium for children, he also explains why the team has turned to Indiegogo rather than presenting the concept to a large publishing house:

Over the last 2 years, we have invested a considerable amount of money and time in this project. It has been very difficult to stay independent. We know that if we sell to the large publishers too early, we will most definitely lose control over matters we find very important and are close to our heart.

The cover of the first BobbekinsWorld e-book, designed by Dawny Daviau (image courtesy of Netdreamer Publications)

We now need to market and develop the full range of e-Books and printed material. At Indiegogo we have the perfect opportunity not only to pre-sell our publications, but to also offer exciting bonuses to families and teachers who share and appreciate our concept.

As a part of the team, Dawny is the Graphics Artist, responsible for designing the cover of the first book in the series. Another long-term SLer, Slim Warrior (or “Slimmie” to her friends – Leo Wolff in RL) is responsible for the music within the books.

In terms of Second Life, the project – as Saffia points out in the headline to her piece – highlights another unique way in which environments such as Second Life can be used to help develop real-world projects.

As well as incorporating the team’s own belief in the digital medium in which to engage young children, the project has received support and input from a panel of advisors, including Dr Tracy Harwood, a National Teacher Fellow and a Senior Researcher at the Institute of Creative Technologies, De Montfort University, UK, Dr. Phylis Johnson (PhD, Instructional Technology), a professor of media in the College of Mass Communication & Media Arts at Southern Illinois University and Elizabeth Spezia, education services and community engagement manager at WSIU, the public television and radio stations for southern Illinois, who leads the station’s Ready To Learn initiative, which reaches thousands of local children and families each year through media-based learning.

A scene from the first Bobbekins book, using a set created in Second Life (courtesy of Netdreamer Publishing)

Related links

With thanks to Saffia Widdershins, and sincere thanks and an apology (for the late write-up) to Dawny Daviau.

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9 thoughts on “BobbekinWorld: building interactive children’s stories in SL

    1. Sorry again that it slipped my attention (until I saw Saffia’s post!). I blame the fact that not only was I rushing to sort myself out of Fantasy Faire, I actually wasn’t firing on all cylinders for a part of last week :(. Glad to get caught-up, tho (Although I’ve now realised I’ve *another* project with a RL cross-over still to cover!). Hope it generates a positive amount of $input$ for the project :).

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  1. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems to me that the current form and level of development of Second Life (and other similar virtual worlds) as a platform is advanced, complete and mature enough to allow people to engage in projects such as interactive storytelling, whereas previous iterations were perhaps a bit less suited to such tasks for purely technical reasons that affected the quality of the visuals (which are of great importance when it comes to creating the proper atmosphere).

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  2. I wish wish wish that Linden Lab would reanimate [pun intended??] the Teen Grid or a grid for youngsters where they can write their own stories and engage creatively with a project like this! An open-ended mostly non-commercial [at least non-corporate] environment like SL is sooo invigorating for young people!!!

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    1. You mean, the Lab should (to quote someone else), “Put the ‘Lab’ back into ‘Linden Lab’, but on a more creative footing? The potential for creative engagement and possible spin-off uses could actually form a further string to LL’s bow – and not just with young people.

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