Reinventing Literature – Tern TV Takes On Tomes

Tern TV, although best known as a TV production company, has a well established and pioneering digital group.  The company’s latest venture into the interactive world was recently picked up by Kotaku, who looked at Tern’s new Digital Adaptations project.

Digital Adaptations takes classic literary works and reimagines them within a virtual environment.  Turning books into games is nothing new and has been attempted in many different ways over the years.  Tern however, is not attempting to create anything remotely similar to a videogame.  The idea is to create a environments and locations from the book, using a combination of games engine, original art and incorporating voice overs and performances from professional theatre companies, to create something entirely new.

Simon Meek, the head of Tern’s digital media group, told Kotaku: “Players enter the stories through the events that take place in that story, and at that point experience the story from the inside out,” he explains. “We place them in the world in which the story is set, and are using a combination of original art and games engine to create some truly stunning environments. Add to that audio design and original composition, and the world of the book is brought to life. On this stage, we then let the player progress through an array of media that is directly taken/reinterpreted from the book.”

Meek is keen to emphasise that these digital adaptations are neither ‘games’ as they’re currently understood, or anything like the current generation of e-books, which simply recreate the experience of reading a traditional printed book, down to turning ‘pages’.  As far as Meek is concerned, these devices are not only failing to reach out to a new audience of readers, but are only targeting a subset of existing readers.

Tern’s adaptations uses descriptions from the text to recreate locations from the book, within an interactive world, where ‘players’ can experience the narrative in a new way.  Unlike traditional games, the player will not be able to alter the story, but can explore the space and find their own path through the book thanks to the objects, characters and hooks into the original text.

The company’s first adaptation will be John Buchan’s classic adventure tale, The 39 Steps, which is due out next year.  Tern then has several other titles in the pipeline, but remain tight-lipped regarding future releases.

You can find the Digital Adaptations website here.  Or follow the project on Twitter.

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