At this year’s Future Convention on November 23 in Frankfurt four students of the Mediencampus Dieburg were honored with a Future Award. Among them was Neti Shah who is now a Master’s student of „Leadership in the Creative Industries“. Her Animation and Game Bachelor thesis, an e-book app called „Something’s Different Today“, won the award in the category „Education“.
The story follows the adventures of Amelia around the world. It is a mixture of animated, interactive linear narratives and exploratory interactive cityscapes. While the focus of the e-book is to teach kids about different countries, geography, culture, languages, cuisines, clothing and festivals, the most significant emphasis is to make them reflect on the similarities of children their age all around the world.
We are told different versions of the same fact or ‘story’ about groups of people through media. With incomplete information and thus, the inability to make fair judgments about that what is different from ourselves, we make largely innocent stereotypes, but stereotypes nonetheless. We generalize people and places as being a ‘single story’ in our minds.
Stereotypes aren’t necessarily untrue, rather incomplete stories. Therefore, even as the e-book makes use of some obvious and well-known characteristics of landscapes and culture of the destination countries, it tries to offer a more complete story. Gamification elements, conversations with locals and other children irk the child’s curiosity and encourages them to immerse in the storyworld, being able to ask questions and complete interactive tasks to get to know different cultures through a local child.
Stories have the ability to break down borders and help children see a reflection of themselves in the characters. More importantly, a good story lets one know individuals as a person and catch a glimpse into their courage and conflicts – thus, teaching children to identify and tackle stereotypes and biases.
“Something’s Different Today” makes children reflect on their experiences and observations to reflect on core similarities despite obvious outward differences in children all around the world. The e-book offers a more complete story in contrast to the single story stereotypes.