________________ CM . . . . Volume III Number 17 . . . . April 25, 1997
CM News


National Film Board’s Interactive Web Site for Kids

home page The National Film Board of Canada has announced a new online children's production called The Prince and I. The production is the first project for NFB KIDS, a new addition to the NFB's extensive Web site. The Prince and I is designed as a fun, stimulating, interactive production on the Internet which introduces children ages 5 and up to the exciting world of reading and writing. The dynamic visual presentation of The Prince and I has captured the imagination of children of all ages and now has over 500 registered users from countries around the world including Israel, Pakistan, Wales, Singapore, South Africa, Canada and Australia. The Prince and I can be found on the World Wide Web at http://www.nfb.ca/Kids.

image The Prince and I site actively encourages genuine interaction. For example, every child can get a personalized home page by submitting a picture of themselves or by choosing from a selection of available drawings. Children who register on the site as a "friend of the Prince" will see themselves with the Prince every time they log in to the site without bothering with passwords and usernames. The site effectively uses the mechanism known as "persistent client state HTTP cookies" which frees the user from retyping a user-id on every connection, and which allows the Prince to follow the success rate of the user in various parts of the site. In order to respect their privacy, children only have to submit their first names and email addresses to the site, which creates a comfortable atmosphere while also providing for maximum ease of use.

image Children coming to the site are also invited to become a character in an interactive tale written by award-winning children's author Margaret Shaw-MacKinnon. Every week for 20 consecutive weeks, children will receive personalized email from the Kingdom Storyteller that includes the story which they will have helped to write. By choosing different elements essential to a story's plot, such as characters' actions or emotions, users can affect how the story progresses.

Spelling games, puzzles and other vocabulary exercises at The Prince and I site are all programmed in Java. The Prince is an encouraging companion to children as they take part in any of these games. Java also powers "The Mission" which features intricate labyrinths that take the user through villages, forests and deep, dark dungeons! As the user finishes each game or activity they receive points and collect pieces of a secret map, all of which leads to the completion of the treasure hunt.

The Prince and I site integrates advanced applications but is still accessible to many Internet users: component requirements are a dial-up modem with a minimum speed of 14.4 kbps and a Java and JavaScript-enabled browser such as Netscape 3.0 or Internet Explorer 3.0. The result is an entertaining, educational, NFB-quality children's product. The inspiration for the site comes from the Has Anybody Seen My Umbrella, a CD-ROM currently in production, which will be released in the spring of 1997. The character on which both these productions are based will be familiar to those who have watched and loved the animated film Has Anybody Seen My Umbrella, in the new compilation Cinderella, Cinderella, Cinderella, available from the NFB.

The Prince and I site was created by the NFB with the express intent of allowing children to indulge their creativity, to have fun and learn in the process. Parents and adults visiting The Prince and I can go to a page called Adult Court that provides information about the objectives of the production and related NFB materials. Special "Hey Parents" buttons will lead adults to background information on all activities.

The Prince and I is made for Animation, Children, Interactive, an English Program stream at the National Film Board of Canada. The director of The Prince and I is Andre Lauzon, the producer is Pierre Lapointe and the executive producer is Isobel Marks.

Copyright © 1997 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364