From comics strips to serious games: Notes about the multimodal complexity of first-aid instructions

    Activity: Talk and presentationAcademic presentationAcademic


    CPR, the Heimlich maneuver, or methods such as checking the pulse and securing the head and neck are important life-saving procedures that everyone should know when involved in emergency situations. How to follow the necessary steps and perform urgent measures is therefore communicated in first-aid instructions in the form of leaflets, posters, or info screens. This multimodal text genre nowadays not only consists of verbal documents, but also includes sequential-pictorial information in comics as well as dynamic audio-visuals such as videos or computer games. As highly complex artifacts, they combine different semiotic modes including writing or speech, static or moving images, layout, gestures, animation, music or sound to make meaning. While the complexity of these instructive forms has increased substantially in the last years, the genre has at the same time adopted and adjusted patterns and structures from other genres such as narratives, for example. As a consequence, these hybrid forms of communication represent highly interesting and innovative research objects for multimodal analysis with far-reaching social implications.

    In my talk, I will first give an overview of the diversity and multimodal complexity of the genre of first-aid instructions and point to examples that are particularly challenging for multimodal analysis. I will then make suggestions how to examine and compare the various artifacts systematically and with methodologically integrative and large-scale empirical investigations.
    Held atMultimodal Forum, Institute of Education, UCL, United Kingdom
    Degree of RecognitionInternational


    • multimodality
    • instructions
    • comics
    • games