The reason I have always been interested in children's storytelling is less about providing an escape from reality, and more about making a connection to it. For the developing brain of a child, any storytelling landscape can be a place to exercise the tools they learn to problem-solve in their everyday lives. It gives them a great opportunity to test out the skills they gather from real-life experiences in a place where the consequences are limited to the confines of the storytelling space. When you combine the vivid imagination of a 5 year old with a storyscape set of constraints, you are inviting them to test out all of their real world experiences in a boundary-less world. It’s the reason kids immediately want to run out and get their own Toothless plush after seeing How to Train Your Dragon; they want to continue the story. When kids are given the constraints of a world to explore in a story, it doesn’t end when the credits roll.
It’s amazing that a kid can take in a story and extract from it all the tools they need to build their own extensions of an existing world. They can create whole dialogues between characters, whole plots that extend beyond the script of a movie, and they can build endlessly with their own experiences and apply them to a world removed from their own. The initial movie or book or game that introduced them to the characters and constraints of the world have developed the foundation for a child to build their own stories.
This concept of building outside the story is what has me hooked on world creation, character developing, and interactive narratives. The ability to look past the scenarios written on the paper, and explore the world behind it. And it’s probably the same reason I have so much trouble finishing a story once I have those constraints created…
On another note, here are some Foobly landscapes. I find it challenging to get the colors right when I'm trying to work within one specific color range (ex: jungle=green, volcano=red). There are so many colors in a jungle! But the point is to have one overwhelming color in each scene so the child playing will pick up on which color to turn Foobly into. If I have a bright yellow sky in the volcano scene, red and yellow should BOTH be right answers, and I don't want to bite off more than I can chew on the coding end, so I'm trying to keep it simple (after all, this game is meant for pre-K kids).