On Sun, Dec. 16, 2007 the Philadelphia Enquirer (online) ran this story:

“Art, film or game? ‘Inanimate Alice’ redefines ‘publish’

There’s a question that sometimes comes up in conversations about interactive fiction: Is it literature, or a game?
I’ve wondered myself, as I’ve joined animated characters on their journeys and tried to fit their narratives into a preexisting slot in my mind. But recently, as I watched Inanimate Alice – an adventure story told through a series of 10 Flash-animated films – I began to think there might be a better way to look at it.

Alice’s story begins when she is 8 years old and living in a remote part of China with her parents (and her imaginary friend Brad). The second and third episodes are set in a villa in Italy and an apartment in Moscow, and in each place Alice finds herself alone, thinking her way out of a scary situation or just keeping herself company. It’s a sophisticated piece of storytelling that makes use of digital imagery and sound, haunting electronic music composed by cocreator Chris Joseph, and of course interactivity. The viewer is also a user, who participates by making the stories move forward and by solving puzzles as Alice introduces them. The third chapter gives users the option to only watch and read the story, or to “play” it.

As the story progresses Alice will grow up to be an artist who, in a nice bit of self-reference, designs characters for a computer game company. The series is still in creation by Kate Pullinger and Joseph, who both teach in the area of digital media arts at De Montfort University in Leicester, England. The fourth episode is due out this month.

Such digital fictions – whether they’re experimental or take a more traditional approach – have tended to be of interest to a somewhat narrow audience. But Alice has found reception in different realms. The available episodes have been translated into Spanish, Italian, French and German, and currently Alice is a featured project in the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue 2008 (http://www.interculturaldialogue2008.eu/). It has been exhibited as a piece of digital art in several countries, and also screened at film festivals.

[…]

Pullinger, who has published novels and collections of short fiction in addition to creating other digital pieces, said she and Joseph did not set out to make Alice a children’s story. But the first several episodes take place during the character’s childhood and adolescence, and the series’ producer, Ian Harper of the Bradfield Co., saw the potential for Alice to be used as an educational tool.

He hired Jessica Laccetti, who did the story’s Italian translation, to create supplemental educational materials, which are available on the site (http://www.inanimatealice.com/education) as a free download. The idea is that pieces like Alice could both engage reluctant readers and acclimate students to “reading” within digital formats – as well as help teachers and parents get a feel for the kinds of technologies their kids are using.

“Teachers have responded incredibly well to Alice, but as with any new form, it’s difficult to find and expand the audience – [though] this is changing already,” Pullinger said.”

Read more here.