Bo & Di: a Case Study of the Effects of Interactivity on Immersion & Character Attachment
"Bo & Di” is an interactive animated film for preschool children that I completed within the framework of my “Practice Based PhD Program”. It features two characters called Bo and Di, who can experience conflictual situations depending on children’s choices. Awarded by a research grant from Yaşar University, I worked in this project with a team of experts coming from developmental psychology, music and game design fields, and I did a reception test with more than 200 children.
This multi-disciplinary project offered a fertile ground for comparing the strengths and strategies of linear and interactive narratives in animation as well as their effects on the audience.
This thesis investigates the narrative characteristics and the effects of interactive animation in preschool children's learning, by producing an interactive animated film named Bo & Di and making reception tests with it. This film and its linear version are specifically tailored to measure the differences in the immersion levels of children and their understanding of character motivations. The storyline, based on the "Theory 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. The reception test was designed in order to measure the differences in the children's immersion level and in their understanding of the film, 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, more than 200 children between the ages of 3 to 5 were observed for different signs of immersion and flow, and afterwards, they were directed same questions relating to the emotional states of the characters. As 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. This result opens up discussions about the relationship between the quality of immersion, interactivity types and learning conditions of preschool children with interactive animated films.