The Drum Awards Festival - Extended Deadline

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Agency: Publicis
Date: Apr 2024
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In an era where technology and AI are often viewed as threats to traditional education and reading habits, the National Library Board, Singapore has taken a bold step forward with the launch of an innovative project called "Playbrary", created in collaboration with LePub APAC. This game-changing initiative literally transforms books into interactive text-adventure games, blending the timeless charm of storytelling with the engagement of digital gameplay.

At the heart of this initiative is a challenge faced by libraries globally: keeping books relevant in an age dominated by digital distractions. Singapore's National Library Board, known for its progressive approaches, has responded with Playbrary. More than just a digital library, Playbrary is an interactive journey through literature, where stories are not merely read but experienced.

Playbrary uses advanced AI to convert traditional books into immersive text-based adventure games. These games adhere to the book's original plot but allow for dynamic interaction, enabling players to influence the story's course. The AI doesn't just adapt the narrative to player choices; it also generates vivid images to accompany the text, crafting a rich, multisensory experience.

Playbrary partners with OpenAI and integrates seamlessly with ChatGPT, allowing users to engage with these literary adventures directly through the platform. Furthermore, Playbrary offers a free prompt generator, ensuring that everyone can enjoy the fusion of reading and gaming. Once kids ‘play’ a story, they can loan the original from National Library Board, Singapore’s catalogue of books and eBooks.

Beyond entertainment, Playbrary serves as an accessible educational tool. By gamifying the reading process, it presents a novel solution to the dwindling interest in traditional reading among younger generations. Reading skills are in an unprecedented decline across many countries: a recent questionnaire by Singapore’s Ministry of Education showed that Singaporean students who “enjoy reading a lot” fell to 51% in 2023, compared with 60% in 2011. Conversely, at least three-quarters of Singaporeans play video or mobile games.

National Library Board, Singapore’s Chief Executive Officer Ng Cher Pong said: “This is part of NLB’s ongoing efforts to make Generative AI accessible to all. Our partnership with LePub APAC opens new, innovative ways for more to read and learn. Through the gamification experience of Playbrary, we hope to encourage more Singaporeans to read these classics after playing the game. We also invite like-minded partners onboard to explore emerging technologies that inspire new ways of interaction with NLB’s resources, such as through GenAI.”

Playbrary will be able to turn any book in the public domain — since AI has read all of them already — into a game: already, more than 1,000 classic books are playable at launch. LePub APAC is also inviting authors and publishers to add their books to Playbrary.

Cyril Louis, Executive Creative Director at LePub APAC, says: “As Playbrary begins its journey, it stands as a testament to Singapore's innovative spirit and a potential beacon for the future of libraries in the digital age. Playbrary celebrates books through the lens of technology, inviting a new generation to rediscover the magic of stories in a format that resonates with their digital-first lifestyle. Once they’ve ‘played’ a story on Playbrary, many kids will be curious to read the original.”

Hanh Kanssen, LePub APAC’s Managing Director, adds: “Playbrary is an exciting project for LePub, which not only helps to rekindle a love for reading in young adults but is also a great educational resource. I am very proud of our great creative team behind this creation, who helped to make this project happen at the speed of light so that people all over the world can discover the joy of reading.”