Interactive Animated Film for Preschool Children: Effects of Interactivity in Immersion and Apprehension of Character Emotions & Motivations
Zeynep Akcay, Yasar University (Turkey)
This paper summarizes the production phase and the reception research of an interactive animated film for preschool kids called Bo & Di, directed by Zeynep Akcay. Supported by a Research Grant Program of Yasar University, It was finalized in December 2016 and reception tests were conducted in January 2017. Being also part of a PhD research on the narrative characteristics of interactive animation, this film and its linear version are specifically tailored to measure the differences in the emotional immersion levels of children. The storyline, based on the "Theody of Mind" notion in developmental psychology, contained the emotional responses of the film characters who feel different things and react in different ways to various situations. A reception test was designed in collaboration with scholar Elif Durgel Jagtap in order to measure the differences in the children's immersion level and in their understanding of emotional states of the characters, investigating whether children experiencing the interactive version would have a better grasp of the characters' motivations and feelings compared to children watching its linear version. For this test, after completing tasks to determine their theory of mind competencies, about 200 children between the ages of 3 to 5 were observed for different signs of immersion and flow (namely, oral participation, visual focus, and the immediate responses matched with their facial expression after watching the film), and afterwards, they were directed same questions relating to the emotional states of the characters. As a result, although the level of immersion for interactive version was significantly much higher than the level of immersion for linear version; the difference of version did not have a significant effect in the level of children's grasp of film characters' emotional states. This result opens up discussions about the relationship between the quality of immersion (namely, ludic or emotional immersion, as described in recent texts about narrative theory) and outcomes of learning in preschool children.
Keywords Interactive Animation for Preschool Kids, Interactivity, Narrative Immersion, Interactive Narrative