Inanimate Alice

Sector ICT for digitally delivered education
Target Users National and provincial education authorities, school districts
Country United Kingdom
Dimension International
Nature of the initiative Private
  • The BradField Company Ltd
Contact Ian Harper


Inanimate Alice is designed as a transmedia story that unfolds over time and on multiple platforms, the episodes are available on devices capable of running Flash Player. Alice connects technologies, languages, cultures, generations and curricula within a sweeping narrative accessible by all.

As Alice’s journey progresses, new storylines appear elsewhere providing more details and insights, enriching the tale through surprising developments. Students are encouraged to co-create developing episodes of their own, either filling in the gaps or developing new strands.

With a popular flagship title ‘Inanimate Alice’ and a slate of 5 further titles, the mission of The BradField Company Ltd is to develop dynamic interactive literacy materials for entertainment and educational purposes, to discuss topics appropriate for and of great interest to those born in the 21st century.

Business needs

Seemingly, there is an ever-increasing call for high-quality video games that are educational yet have the compelling nature of top selling video games. While this objective may well be achievable for Science and Technology, that call poses a direct conflict in terms of literacy objectives.

Presently, literacy content is delivered by traditional means. Whether that is actually in print, e-book or other electronic formats such as PDF, the printed page remains the core medium.

This logic becomes increasingly untenable as reading in all forms shifts inexorably towards screens. More than ever words are being delivered with audio-visual accompaniments. They are becoming interactive in myriad ways that we are just beginning to uncover. Far from being a loss to literature, such developments make it accessible for new generations that prioritise reading from screens.

highly-regarded report from Cisco sets the scene for the audio-visualization of narrative.



Inanimate Alice's solution is to embed puzzles and games within a dynamically delivered multimedia literacy title that has the look and feel of a videogame. Simple to start with the challenges become incrementally more difficult as the protagonist gets older. It acts as a primer for those unfamiliar with videogames.

This is the story of a young girl growing up dreaming of one day becoming a videogame designer. Over 10 incrementally more complex episodes, it shares her life and experiences from the age of 8 through to her mid-twenties when her ambition is achieved.

The core story available free online provides the basis for a premium body of work addressing 'Literacy across the curriculum'.

Born-digital changes everything. To be written firstly for and to be viewed, read, consumed from screens affords flexibility inconceivable in a print-driven world. Being born-digital encourages continuous improvement, growth, changes of direction in addition to the ability to deliver across multiple platforms concurrently.


The role of technology

The core team comprises a creative team and an Education Steering Group. The early episodes were developed using Adobe Flash. However, the team has recently shifted to using the Unity 3D game engine as the story evolves in an ever more game-like experience.

Outside of the core team we call upon artists, animators, researchers, game and puzzle developers as well as specialized educators.

An essential part of Alice’s journey is discussing the creative tools she uses to tell her story and develop her career prospects. Students following in Alice’s footsteps will have an essential grounding in digital storytelling.

Ease of translation has stimulated the delivery of the title in French, German, Italian and Spanish as well as English. Japanese, Indonesian and simplified Chinese are in preparation. The vision is that everyone should experience the title first in their own language.


Results obtained

‘Inanimate Alice’ is a multi-award-winning title written by Governor General’s prize winning author and professor of digital media, Kate Pullinger. The title has been recognized as a Best Website for Teaching and Learning by the American Association of School Librarians. Similarly, it has been evaluated by BC-ERAC in Canada with the conclusion: 'This resource is one of the best examples of multimedia available today for use in classrooms'.

Selected by the EC as a feature of several initiatives including Intercultural Dialogue and eSkills, Alice is seen as a 'champion of ICT education and empowering girls'. The title was found by the Cabinet of Vice President Kroes to be 'a very interesting approach that would fit very well in the context of the Grand Coalition'.

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