Complete Control

Amplified Publishing Category

Personalisation and interactivity: the double-sided methods of empowered digital storytelling in the Child-Computer Interaction field

by Karolina Latka (Complete Control)

For many years now, the rise of digital technologies, Amplified Publishing and advancement of Child-Computer Interaction (CCI) field of study were bringing a proliferation of interactive and personalised content in the space of content creation and publishing for children. However, personalisation and interactive storytelling themselves are nothing new.

In fact, they have been an important and emerging part of the digital communities such as Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) since 1990s, when the little ones became the centre of attention of the digital research world. The need for a field focused on this very unique audience with its own needs and expectations, led to the creation of the CCI field. With the new field emerging, many research projects were undertaken to understand children’s behaviours, interactions and abilities when participating in the digital world. Digital storytelling became the main subject of research due to its educational and commercial potential – personalisation and interactive storytelling were seen as methods which could improve engagement, cognitive skill development and create new forms of expressing creativity. Over the years with the advancement of technology, the digital landscape has shifted across different media, moving away from old technological models such as Flash and towards new emerging technologies and kid friendly platforms allowing the experiences to reach new levels of personalisation and interactivity.

Nowadays, following 3 decades of research and development within the field, personalisation and interactivity are common methods utilised in digital storytelling across different media – from digital literature (eg Wonderscope by Within) to games (eg Roblox by Roblox Corporation) and animations (eg released by Netflix Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale). While the use of these methods is common, the density in which they are utilised varies between age ranges (adult versus children of different ages and abilities) as well different media types – games often exploit personalisation and interactivity to a higher extend (for instance, character personalisation or non-linear choice based narrative outcome), while digital literature and animation can use more subtle yet empowering adjustments (for instance, the use of reader’s ambient in Ambient Literature or personalising content to audience’s culture).

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Each medium uses personalisation and interactivity in a way unique to the medium’s form. The way in which these digital storytelling methods are used in each medium, highlights the advantages and disadvantages of both methods. This is an important subject not only to content creators who want to ensure the chosen storytelling methods help them fully express the content created and achieve intended outcome. It is also important to publishers who want to ensure the chosen methods of storytelling meet the audience’s needs and expectations.

What can these two empowering storytelling tools bring to the content creation and publishing for children?

As balancing out the advantages and disadvantages of both methods is so important, this raises the questions of: what can these two empowering storytelling tools bring to the content creation and publishing for children? How can we innovate the way these methods are used and enhance immersion in digital storytelling? With the emerging technologies such as voice recognition, motion capture and power of 5G coming to children’s fingertips through their devices, there are new storytelling experiences on the horizon. How can we utilise these technologies to enhance new models of immersion that are to be seen in this space?

Can such methods be used within a collaborative space without sacrificing the content quality? Can we use such collaborative spaces to create positive impact on the post pandemic world by bringing friends and families together through entertaining, educational and personalised content? Through our research, we’re aiming to find the answers to these questions as well as innovative solutions for content creators and publishers who want to enhance digital storytelling for children through the use of interactivity and personalisation across a range of digital media where children are the consumers and/or creators of content.