Funded! This project was successfully funded on April 16, 2013.

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It's the novel you play. It's the book that's a game. VIDYA BOOKS presents... The book, as reimagined by video game makers.

Missed the campaign? 

HAVE NO FEAR! You can still follow our progress and donate on our website. <3

We are FUNDED!

THANK YOU for all your support. We are now working hard on our commitment to ship our first VIDYA BOOK: Codename: A for Adventure within the next 60 days!  

Plus we hit our first stretch goal! You have funded an additional version of the book at a different reading level for those kids whose reading level is behind their friends.

Don't forget, you can still back and support us over on our website.

What People Are Saying

Looking good Joe Booth! I look forward to suffering a horrible demise in one of these. I think I got the last 'red shirt.' For my friends: pretty cool idea here, a new take on interactive fiction. I've played around with the prototype and it's the real deal. If you ever enjoyed Choose Your Own Adventure books and/or Text-based adventure games, of if you just like supporting cool ideas, definitely check this out. - Ryan Wener. Activision, Seattle

I'm super excited about this- making reading accessible for all learners. What a concept! Plus, it is super fun! - Michael Meyers

Over 250 people have now experienced Vidya Books. For more quotes and extended video footage CLICK HERE. 

Press Coverage

Help For Struggling Readers (blog) - In taking on this project, Joe Booth and his company will be making a major contribution to literacy for young people.

Examiner - an innovative way to help inspire kids to read that reminds me of a high-tech version of "Choose Your Own Adventure"

GallyCat - Video Game Maker Raising Funds for Interactive Book

GeekWire - Video game vet creates books you can play with, reaches $10K Kickstarter goal in 4 days

Spong - With around 16 per cent, or 5.2 million adults in England, who can be described as "functionally illiterate" anything we can do to encourage reading must be a good thing.

PCMag.com - Kickstarter Tech Project of the Week

Polygon - Vidya Books seek to make reading interactive with help of Kickstarter

Queen Anne View - Local Queen Anne startup aims to ignite kids’ passion of reading via an interactive experience

About Vidya Books

Vidya Books is an interactive book experience delivered as an iPad/iPhone app. It’s a novel you play with – it’s a book that is a game

Vidya Books leverages the best elements of Choose Your Own Adventure storytelling, classic adventure games, traditional novels, and modern action games to create something fresh and magical.

Upon opening the app and selecting a book, you’ll watch as the story materializes on screen, one word at a time. You interact with the words as they appear -- your interaction directs the main character.  You swipe the screen, touch words, and manipulate the device -- and that moves the story forward!

In a Vidya Book, you matter! The story unfolds in front of you and around you and you control the pace. In a traditional novel the story has one path - it doesn't matter if you're paying attention or not. Here, your attention is integral and your choices matter

Book One 

Our first Vidya Book is an epic adventure in the vein of Indiana Jones, Uncharted, and Tomb Raider. Our hero travels the globe uncovering a mystery that spans centuries.

It is a story that will appeal to both young and old; a reading experience that will delight early readers while surprising and enchanting lifelong lovers of fiction.

The story arc is ready, the first chapter is 'playable'. But we are leaving certain key decisions to YOU. The hero's name, the identities of the key characters (they could be you!), certain plot points, and even the title will all be shaped by you, our backers.

A Personal Message From Joe Booth, our Founder

As far back as I can remember, I've struggled with dyslexia. At school I was amazing in some classes, but a disaster in others. I was coding at age eleven, but I couldn't write a simple paper or read many books. 

I was lucky though. I got into video games just as they took off. My timing was fortunate and I rode that wave and have had the most amazing journey. Unfortunately, the reality for most kids who struggle with reading is very different.

While there has been some great innovation in reading apps for pre-schoolers and early grades there just isn't anything for older kids. 

My vision is simple. Let's take everything I've learned whilst making video games and apply that to ebooks. Let's make reading as fun as a video games and let's get people passionate about reading. 

Please help. Back us. Join us. Let's make this happen. 

Revised Stretch Goals

What if we took on one of the biggest challenges for struggling readers today and used the stretch goals to fund additional versions of the book at different reading levels?

Why do different reading levels matter?

Books are rated by reading level (there are several systems) and interest level. Typically they match; a book aimed a fifth grader has a fifth grade reading level. Makes sense, right?

Well here is the problem: imagine we have a fifth grade kid who is reading at third grade level. He can't read the books at his interest level, he has to read the books aimed at two grades below him. He finds them, well, a bit dumb. He's embarrassed to be reading them in front of his peers. And guess what, he disengages from reading and falls further and further behind. I know this from personal experience as it's what happened to me.

Take my son Jackson. Jackson loves Harry Potter. Jackson loves to do things with his friends. They watch movies together, they play video games together. But, for Harry Potter, only a few of them are able to read the books. It turns out that many of Jackson's friends are at different reading levels. Some are super advanced. Some have dyslexia, disgraphia or are just learning at a different pace.

I think we can solve this. Why? Because we have been doing this with video games for years. Video games have different difficulty levels. As an industry we signed up to tuning the game for those different levels. So, lets show that we can do this for books and demonstrate to the publishing industry how things should be done!

What are the stretch goals?

  • $15,000k First reading level 
  • $21,500k Second reading level 
  • $28,000k Third reading level
If we get close to the third reading level we will detail additional stretch goals

How will we create the books at different levels?

Each new reading level would effectively be a new version of the book. We will take the finished book and take it through an editing process.
  • This effort is experimental - much of the contribution will be completed by our community of supporters. 
  • We will not hold back the release of the main book for this effort. We estimate that it will take 4-6 weeks to go through the editing process. 
  • To be conservative, we are giving a guidance of 12 weeks between the release of the first book and the release of the books at different readings levels. 
  • We may not be able to implement every recommendation of best practice for taking books to lower reading levels. There are some recommendations that infer a fewer number of words on a page and the use of visual representation. We won't be able to do that. We will be able to implement other recommendations such as limiting the number of words per paragraph, increase the spacing and font size, and slowing down the reading speed.
  • All additional reading levels will be available to all our backers at no additional cost.

Developer Diary Video #1

Thanks for your feedback asking for more detail. I have recorded a developer diary of the first five minutes from our first book...

The BACKSTAGE CLUB

We want YOU to come on this journey with us. Our BACKSTAGE CLUB gives you access to private forums, exclusive hangouts with the team, and you will be giving YOUR input on key creative and business decisions. 

And here is the best bit. You will get preview access to EVERY NEW BOOK we make during your BACKSTAGE subscription period. That means you get to experience the creative process as it happens.

We understand the power of affinity spaces for exposing kids to complex language. Some top learning researchers believe that more learning goes on in the social spaces around video games than in the games themselves. This is because of the exposure to complex language. We will focus this club on exposing members to the inner workings of engineering, the creative process and the business process.  

Written By You & Rewards... 

In true KickStarter tradition, YOU will be shaping the story.

  • Our hero. We know he's male, early 20s, a journalist and a reluctant  adventurer. But his NAME, some KEY personality traits, his hopes and fears, will be shaped by you.
  • Our female lead. She's beautiful, intelligent, courageous, but is she YOU, your GIRLFRIEND, your DAUGHTER?
  • The mentor. Every great story has its Obi Wan Kenobi - will ours be YOU?
  • Other characters. The supporting cast, the ensemble of characters who reflect the many dimensions of our hero's journey. Who could you be? 
  • Red Shirts. Adventuring is a dangerous business, and accidents will happen. Every epic story needs its 'red shirts', those poor characters whose 15 seconds of fame is cut short. How will you die?
  • Subplots. YOU will co-write a subplot with our writing staff.
  • Personal dedications. A very personal dedication, only for you.
  • Global dedication. YOU get to write the master dedication - the one that everyone gets to see.
  • Personal message. A private message, just for you. Come on, nothing too cheeky now!
  • The title. No, you can't buy the title, but we will be shaping this with our BACKSTAGE CLUB.



What Will The KickStarter Funds Cover?

We have built the technical and creative foundation, but we need help to cover the final costs to finish writing and programming, and then publish our first book. The $10,000 we seek will go to cover...

  • An illustrator for the book cover artwork
  • Additional writing and game design to finish the first book
  • Additional programming for more mechanics
  • Additional programming to cover server and user profile
  • Community management
  • General publishing overheads (admin, legal, etc)


Our Road Map

We are using the Lean Start Up methodology. This methodology is all about finding your core, passionate audience and using quick iteration to learn as you go. This is a perfect methodology for KickStarter.

Phase One - In phase one, we build our initial product (Book One), we find our passionate audience, and get to market as quickly as we can.

Phase Two - In phase two, we go deep and build out multiple books. We experiment with lots of genres and lots of ideas. We get rapid feedback from you, our audience. We start to test the academic potential for Vidya Books.

Phase Three - In phase three, we scale. We go to different hardware platforms. We invest in the authoring tools so that many, many authors can publish on our platform. We tackle localization and regional content. We scale the academic reach of Vidya Books and look to make an impact within the classroom.

Phase One Schedule

Concept Phase - Sep / Oct 2012 - the initial concept was developed from the driving question, 'what if we invented the book today?' 

Prototype Phase - Nov / Dec 2012 - We developed an initial prototype using an off the shelf engine called Stencyl. This allowed us too iterate and test ideas very quickly. We learned a lot (mostly, that we needed to simplify). 

Pre-Production - Jan / Feb 2013 - We switched to Xcode and native iOS development. This allows us to use the beautiful font system built into to iOS. But we needed to go very deep into Apple's libraries to get the performance to do all the things we wanted to do in real time.

Production - Mar / Apr 2013 - This is the production time for Book One. This is where we are right now, yeh!

Post-Production & Release - May 2013. With your support, this is when Book One will be released.  


The Creative Team

Joe Booth - Founder. Joe struggled to succeed in the traditional school environment with his dyslexia. He chose to play truant and teach himself to code, getting his first job in game making when he was just 15 years old. He now has 25 years of video game making experience, including FIFAs, NEED FOR SPEEDs, Ghost Recons, Rollercoaster Tycoons. With 24m games sold, generating $1b in revenue and 10 AIAS & BAFTA nominations. Joe has held senior production and creative roles at Microsoft, Electronic Arts, and Ubisoft. 

Joe founded Vidya Gamer to focus on how to use his experience with game making to help enable kids learn. At Microsoft, he oversaw Microsoft KODU, a leading game-based learning platform. He has consulted with the Gates Foundation, Pearson Foundation, Achieve 3000 and OutThink Inc.

Max Brallier - Creative Advisor. Max is an accomplished author of modern day interactive fiction. A writer by trade, gamer by passion, Max has one foot in both worlds. His works include the epic, modern day, choose your adventure style, "Can YOU Survive The Zombie Apocalypse?".

Max Brallier
Max Brallier
Can YOU Survive the Zombie Apocalypse?
Can YOU Survive the Zombie Apocalypse?

Dr. Alex Games - Learning Science Advisor. Alex's experience spans both academia and development. He has published many research papers on Games and Learning, including his work on Gamestar Mechanic and Microsoft KODU. For Microsoft, he served as Education Design Director where he oversaw the education and enrichment strategy for Kinect Sesame Street TV, Kinect Nat Geo TV, Double Fine Happy Action Theater and Microsoft KODU.

Free Vidya Books Program

We know many of you are motivated by giving back to your community. 

The Free Vidya Books Program is our way of enabling that. On pledges of $25 or more, we will add five books to the program. Schools, libraries and education researchers will be able to apply for free Vidya Books.

If you know of an organization who might be interested, please encourage them to email us at info@vidyagamer.com

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Our biggest risk is that this is a new medium. We just don't have enough data to accurately predict how long awesomeness takes. Our key mitigation to this risk is our strategy. By focusing on small increments, by only focusing on the iPad & iPhone for the first phase, we are reducing the complexity as much as we can.

From a technical perspective, many of the core key challenges have been addressed. The code is well structured, optimized appropriately and is easy to maintain. We have some key tasks around servers and profiles, and we need to go through Apple's submission process. Most of the remaining code tasks are around specific interactions or effects that we would like to add. The one key technical question is what happens when the app hits scale both in terms of users and content.

From a content perspective, the outline and story arc is complete. The first chapter is done, we've drafted out most of the rest, but of course, this is going to evolve with our backers.

Our stretch goals focus around creating new content. There is risk in some of our assumptions on how much it will cost to make additional books.

Supporting iOS5, iPad 1, and iPhone increase complexity. It may be that for our first version, that we need to focus on a sub set of hardware (iOS6 compatible devices) and then follow up with the other devices.

Finally, please be comfortable backing a project that is trying to be different. If you are the kind of person who hates change, is the last to switch to a new technology, then maybe this isn't for you. Please back us for the right reasons!

FAQ

  • I defiantly understand that it is a restriction to only support one platform and in time we will defiantly go everywhere there is demand .

    I had started development using a development environment that would have made it easier to support different devices. However, I found that quality suffered. The font support was rudimentary and performance was compromised.

    I felt it was right to focus on a single platform while I develop the first few books and focus on quality. But the consequence is that it's not a trivial task to take it to other platforms.

    I have a lot of experience of multi platform development. The challenge is that it incrementally increases your costs. All new features and content have to be maintained across all those devices.

    So, this is my long way of saying that it's not a trivial matter and it's not something we don't care about. We just have to make the hard choices and do things at the right time.

    Please keep messaging us about the platforms you would like us to support once we are ready.

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    BOOK ONE - A digital copy, on iPad and iPhone, of the very first Vidya Book, on the day of release. In addition, for every stretch goal we reach, you will receive the additional VIDYA BOOK at NO ADDITIONAL COST. That's right, the more people you get to sign up, the more content you will receive for your pledge.

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    PHILANTHROPIST - We are creating a Free Vidya Books Program for schools, libraries and academic researchers. On pledges of $25 or more, we will add five books to the program. You ALSO get BOOK ONE on the day of release for your iPad and iPhone, plus any stretch goal items.

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    STUDENT / TEACHER PASS - A one year subscription to our BACKSTAGE CLUB. Applies to current students of all ages and teachers. You ALSO get BOOK ONE on the day of release for your iPad and iPhone, plus any stretch goal items AND we will add five books into the Free Vidya Books Program.

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    CREATOR PASS - A one year subscription to our BACKSTAGE CLUB. Applies to writers, illustrators and game makers. Be the first to be notified of all future creative, technical and production jobs / contract work, AND help us shape our strategy to scale up Vidya Books to be a major creative and commercial platform. This is a great opportunity for aspiring creatives who are looking for innovative opportunities. Applies to anyone who has had published work or has studied writing, illustrating or game making. You ALSO get BOOK ONE on the day of release for your iPad and iPhone, plus any stretch goal items AND we will add five books into the Free Vidya Books Program.

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    BACKSTAGE CLUB SUBSCRIPTION - A one year subscription to the BACKSTAGE CLUB. Shape the future of Vidya Books, with exclusive access to our forums, PLUS early access to preview builds of ALL our new content. That means that as we enter the alpha & beta testing phases, BACKSTAGE CLUB members will be able to play preview builds and give feedback. You ALSO get BOOK ONE on the day of release for your iPad and iPhone, plus any stretch goal items AND we will add five books into the Free Vidya Books Program.

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    CUSTOMIZED DEDICATION - You choose a personal, custom dedication that will be displayed exclusively at the beginning of the book when reading on your account. This is in addition to the PUBLIC DEDICATION (that all readers see). You ALSO get a one year BACKSTAGE CLUB subscription and BOOK ONE on the day of release for your iPad and iPhone, plus any stretch goal items AND we will add five books into the Free Vidya Books Program.

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    SECRET MESSAGE - We will encode a special secret message from you to someone else. This makes a fantastic gift for someone special in your life: a boyfriend, girlfriend, your child, teacher, personal dog walker. At an undisclosed point in the book, a character will hand them your secret message. You ALSO get a one year BACKSTAGE CLUB subscription and BOOK ONE on the day of release for your iPad and iPhone, plus any stretch goal items AND we will add five books into the Free Vidya Books Program.

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    RED SHIRT - Adventuring is a dangerous business, and accidents will happen. Every epic story need its 'red shirts', those poor characters whose 15 seconds of fame is cut short. As a 'red shirt', we will work with you to capture your name, a short backstory and give you an interesting death! You ALSO get a one year BACKSTAGE CLUB subscription and BOOK ONE on the day of release for your iPad and iPhone, plus any stretch goal items AND we will add five books into the Free Vidya Books Program.

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    SCHOOL BENEFACTOR - Know a school that would benefit from Vidya Books? It could be your child's school, or just a school in need. For a pledge at this level, we will give 30 copies of Vidya books to a school or academic program of your choosing. We will contact the school and announce your gift (in your name, or anonymously, your choice). You ALSO get a one year BACKSTAGE CLUB subscription and BOOK ONE on the day of release for your iPad and iPhone, plus any stretch goal items AND we will add five books into the Free Vidya Books Program.

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    THESPIAN - You (or a person of your choosing) will be a secondary character. We will work with you to capture your personality (while respecting the integrity of the story). You ALSO get a one year BACKSTAGE CLUB subscription and BOOK ONE on the day of release for your iPad and iPhone, plus any stretch goal items AND we will add five books into the Free Vidya Books Program.

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    Creative call / Skype with creative consultant Max: a one hour call to cover anything you want. This could be for you, for your children, or how about donating this to your local school. You ALSO get a one year BACKSTAGE CLUB subscription and BOOK ONE on the day of release for your iPad and iPhone, plus any stretch goal items AND we will add five books into the Free Vidya Books Program.

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    Game Designer Skype / call with Joe Booth: a one hour call with Joe to cover anything you want. This could be for you, for your children, or how about donating this to your local school. You ALSO get a one year BACKSTAGE CLUB subscription and BOOK ONE on the day of release for your iPad and iPhone, plus any stretch goal items AND we will add five books into the Free Vidya Books Program.

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    CO-WRITER: YOU will work with our creative staff to create a sub plot. You will see the drafts as we write them and we'll consult as we create! You ALSO get a one year BACKSTAGE CLUB subscription and BOOK ONE on the day of release for your iPad and iPhone, plus any stretch goal items AND we will add five books into the Free Vidya Books Program.

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    VILLAIN: You (or the person of your choosing) will be cast as the story's villain. We will work with you to capture your unique personality, characteristics and, of course, your name (respecting the integrity of the story). You ALSO get a one year BACKSTAGE CLUB subscription and BOOK ONE on the day of release for your iPad and iPhone, plus any stretch goal items AND we will add five books into the Free Vidya Books Program.

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    HEROINE: You (or the person of your choosing) will co-star as the story's heroine. We will work with you to capture your unique personality, characteristics and, of course, your name (respecting the integrity of the story). You ALSO get a one year BACKSTAGE CLUB subscription and BOOK ONE on the day of release for your iPad and iPhone, plus any stretch goal items AND we will add five books into the Free Vidya Books Program.

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    CO-STAR: You (or the person of your choosing) will be cast in the role of sidekick or mentor. We will work with you to capture your unique personality, characteristics and, of course, your name (respecting the integrity of the story). You ALSO get a one year BACKSTAGE CLUB subscription and BOOK ONE on the day of release for your iPad and iPhone, plus any stretch goal items AND we will add five books into the Free Vidya Books Program.

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    Be the HERO - We will name the hero after you (or person of your choosing). Of course the name needs to fit the story, so we do reserve the right to work with you to tweak it. We will also use some of your characteristics to help shape his personality (while respecting the creative integrity of the story arc). You ALSO get the one year BACKSTAGE CLUB subscription and BOOK ONE on the day of release for your iPad and iPhone, plus any stretch goal items AND we will add five books into the Free Vidya Books Program.

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    PRODUCER - You will get Producer credit on the first VIDYA BOOK. You ALSO get the one year BACKSTAGE CLUB subscription and BOOK ONE on the day of release for your iPad and iPhone, plus any stretch goal items AND we will add five books into the Free Vidya Books Program.

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    DEDICATE BOOK ONE - Make history as the very first Vidya Book is dedicated to YOU (or someone of your choosing) including a short message (within reason as governed by the laws of being awesome). You ALSO get the one year BACKSTAGE CLUB subscription and BOOK ONE on the day of release for your iPad and iPhone, plus any stretch goal items AND we will add five books into the Free Vidya Books Program.

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    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Fund the Pilot of a new book.... We know there are tons of killer story ideas that we should tackle with Vidya Books. For $10,000, you get to be an Executive Producer and help us choose that next big idea. You ALSO get the one year BACKSTAGE CLUB subscription and BOOK ONE on the day of release for your iPad and iPhone, plus any stretch goal items AND we will add five books into the Free Vidya Books Program.

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Funding period

- (32 days)