ACM - Computers in Entertainment

Towards digital narrative for children

By Krystina Madej
Theoretical and Practical Computer Applications in Entertainment, [Vol. 1, No. 1]

DOI: 10.1145/950566.950585

Narrative is central to human experience, and a key way that experience is made meaningful. Education and entertainment have both played a significant part in the evolution of children's narrative. In its liminal state during the 1500s, children's print narrative was primarily educational. Locke's theories of education in the 1700s encouraged "children playing and doing as children," and narrative slowly moved towards being entertaining as well as educational. Not until the 1800s, with the stories of Lewis Carroll, was narrative created solely for the entertainment of children. Throughout its development it has provided a way for shaping children's experience, reflecting how they fit into their society, and helping them construct meaning for themselves. As narrative evolved to find its rightful place in the mix of technology, education, and entertainment within children's print culture, so it is evolving within the rapidly developing digital environment. Authors, publishers, and producers are responsible for understanding how children respond to a digital environment, and for making the digital narrative a positive experience. This paper presents the history of children's literature as it has developed from oral tradition through print and now into digital environments. It draws parallels, particularly between education and entertainment, in children's print narratives and similar (but more rapid) developments in the evolution of digital narratives. In doing so, it aims to encourage a more positive attitude to the significant opportunities new technologies offer for reshaping the way in which narrative for children is conceived and presented so that it continues in its time honored role of constructing meaning in their lives.

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