Jun 25

The wide scope of kids’ media

This time next week, I’ll be at the Children’s Media Conference. One of the things I love about the CMC is the wide scope of the M: media. It is not the Children’s TV Conference, App Conference or Book Conference. It is a place where people delivering good content to children in any form can come together in a relaxed setting and just learn from each other.

A couple of years back, I posted about a CMC talk from Ian Livingstone on gaming. It got me thinking about my views on narrative and just how that works for children. I come from a television background and, personally, I love narrative. I love telling stories and children love hearing, watching or experiencing stories. But it is not the be all and end all of children’s content. Not by a long shot.

Toca Boca, Sago Sago and more show that you can give children a toy and let them construct their own narrative through play. Any experience can be a narrative. A town built in Minecraft may carry a fictional narrative in the head of the builder or it can simply be that the trials of building that town is a narrative in itself, with its own challenges, failures and successes. This isn’t new. Lego of old didn’t come with a backstory. A Fisher Price garage didn’t need an accompanying comic to make clear who the characters were.

When it comes to imagination, kids simply don’t need our help.

But they still love a good story, which opens the door to merging these approaches: narrative-driven interactive content. We have been making faux-interactive entertainment for many decades in children’s television and the next natural step is of course genuine interactivity. A child still experiencing a story, a constructed narrative, but being part of it through the characters or getting to take part in activities or games. As both a content creator and as someone who just loves gaming, I find this mix incredibly inspiring. And now I have something fun in the works that will be revealed very soon – a partnership with leading children’s app publisher Storytoys, who have made the merging of storytelling and interactivity their specialty. More on that another time but, for now, Storytoys have released this teaser image:

DDPromo

Ooh, dinosaury!

So this year, I attend the CMC with the buzz of some exciting Mooshku projects, as script editor on wonderful TV shows, this new dino-filled collaboration coming soon and, most importantly, with a far wider picture of the M across all of that. And this is what I love about what we can do for kids. We can sit them down and tell them a story or we can throw them some blocks and see what they come up with themselves. Or we can do anything in between. If you’re attending this year, I hope you pick up some fascinating insight and maybe I’ll see you there.

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