PUPPET (1998-2000) a virtual puppet theatre for children


Puppet was a multidisciplinary project, that was funded by the European Union Esprit-LTR- i3 Experimental Schools Environment Programme. It ran for three years from 1998 to 2001. The aim of this project was to design and implement a range of interactive virtual environments, using VR technology, to enable young children (4 to 8 year olds) to ‘learn through externalisation’. We developed a virtual theatre that allowed children to create, act in, edit and direct their own plays in a virtual environment, using an agent-based architecture. The virtual theatre provided virtual characters (avatars and autonomous agents) for helping children to construct plays with a coherent narrative structure. Based on our external cognition theory (Scaife and Rogers, 1996) we see the system as having the educational benefit of allowing children to learn through reflecting. An in-depth evaluation of the system was carried out in a school setting, showing how children were able to ‘stand back’ from normal everyday story-telling and participate in role-understanding and decentring.


Mike Scaife, Yvonne Rogers, Malcolm McIlhagga, Pat George, Jonathan Howell, Paul Marshall (University of Sussex),

University of Aalborg, Denmark,

University of Aarhus, Denmark,

DFKI, Saarbrucken, Germany