(Animation Magazine, Feb. '95, pages 28 and 32)
Carmen Sandiego began life as a computer game- a history, geography, educational title - by way of Broderbund Software Inc., Novato, Calif., a diversified consumer software company. Founded by Douglas Carlson, Broderbund is one of the hottest names in educational software publishing.
For the  holiday season Broderbund published "Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?" junior version, an icon and dialog-based CD-ROM product designated for five to eight year olds.
But Carmen Sandiego isn't just a game. The software series inspired [three] TV shows for kids: DIC Entertainment's animated adventure Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego? on the Fox Kids Network, and the PBS game show[s], Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? [and Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego? ] produced by WGBH Boston and WQED Pittsburgh.
Broderbund constantly works at new ways to update the orginal product. Software titles include, "Where in the USA Is Carmen Sandiego?," "Where in Space Is Carmen Sandiego?," "Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego?," and "Where in America's Past Is Carmen Sandiego?," in addition to the signature "Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?"
Broderbund has creative input on every Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego? script, but not necessarily every storyboard.
Ken Goldstein, publisher of Broderbund's Education and Entertainment Products Group, describes his company relationship with DIC Entertainment as "very healthy."
He was deeply involved in the first season of the DIC/Fox series, establishing the working relationship and the new ground rules. Since then, he's passed on regular contact to his staff, yet still signs off on every set of script notes (drafts of every script are read by Broderbund staff and every storyboard reviewed).
For the most part, the DIC series scripts are different from those used by Broderbund but there's some synergy. Broderbund has introduced a new character into its most recent software, Stretch the Crime Dog, described as "a lovable, clue-sniffing, crime-busting canine" who works for the ACME Detective Agency.
Reciprocally, the software is now using agents Zack and Ivy and The Chief from the DIC animated TV series.
"Carmen is a perennial for us," notes Goldstein. "It really is an evergreen product, a premier intellectual property. I'm delighted to manage its existance." According to Goldstein, "Carmen Jr." will probably go Gold in the software business, which 100,000 pieces, within a couple of months.
Broderbund, Goldstein also reports, does a lot of licensing, including T-shirts, mouse pads and backpacks, among other items. "Carmen" is also very much an international product. Goldstein says "Carmen" software is "very big" in Spain and Mexico, and also especially popular in Israel.
There's a Japanese version of "Carmen," plus a cartridge version on Nintendo and Sega, which has not done as well as Broderbund would like. "I don't think it's the right venue for the product," Goldstein remarks.
Broderbund is stepping up to a new level of international distribution on March 1, opening its own Broderbund Europe office an publishing localized versions of new "Carmen" products from that time forward.
By Broderbund's designs and demand, there are no guns or other weapons in the Carmen Sandiego TV show or software. The Carmen character does have henchmen but, points out Goldstein, "it's very much '3 Stooges.' They botch things and they use such things as big suction cups, funny gadgets and outlandish vehicles but there are never any guns, no bombs, no grenades, no violence. They never threaten the detectives. It's all a game of wits."
Broderbund also has been very careful not to portray sterotypes, to make sure with the software that all different types of international cultures are reflected positively. DIC is equally sensitive about portraying stereotypes and respecting different cultures.
"Computers have revolutionized the teaching world, and now classrooms will never be the same," suggests one reviewer of "Carmen" software.
"Programs like 'Carmen' let students explore their own paths of learning," points out another.
Reprinted without permission
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