My kids love “choose your own adventure” stories (called “text adventures” or “interactive fiction” or IF). Don’t think they all were born bookworms. The little one with short attention span can spend hours playing with Frotz (free IF iOS app) or Choice of Games. Because this kind of stories breaks the reading into short chunks, and takes the full advantage of the co-creative potential of digital e-books. It builds a different reading experience.
As I noticed inkle – a Cambridge-based start-up – just released an adapted interactive fiction App based on Frankenstein (eBook App), I click on purchasing button without much hesitation. But what’s more excited is that they just released the beta version of a free visualized tool – inklewriter – for anyone to write interactive stories.
You don’t even need to read a long tutorial to get started with the writing tool, the tutorial itself becomes an interactive story to walk you through the information you need(love this idea). Co-Design has featured this tool here: Write ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ Books Through This Clever HTML5 App :
Branching narratives are a surprisingly natural approach to make books interactive. But they’re a logistical nightmare. Multiple storylines? Converging plots? How could you keep even a simple story straight?
Now, inkle is making their internal compositional software available to the public free as an HTML5 web app called inklewriter. So, without any coding expertise at all, and without much preplanned plot, either, you can simply start typing an interactive novel.
- Instead of concerning yourself with plot diagrams or dialogue trees, you simply begin typing your story. When you’ve reached a decision point, you just click “add option” and enter the appropriate text.
- inklewriter tracks “loose ends” clearly denoted red text which you can spot or search for in a notifications panel. Clicking on one takes you straight to your mistake. Another small piece of interface brilliance is that you don’t ever have to worry about how these branching storylines are shaped or organized. The software uses AI to break down long branching texts into “sections.” And if you ever just want to add an early loose end to what you’re typing in the present, there’s always a button to do that called “join.”
- They even managed complicated conditional logic in a way that makes sense to non-programmers, meaning I can choose to marry that ghost at the end of the book, only if I chose to buy a ghost ring in section 4.
- inklewriter allows you to pen interactive stories in seconds and share them through a unique URL
Reading or writing interactive fictions have educational value in improving language literacy. Long passive reading in old time now can be transformed into active reading and critical thinking experience on digital readers. A re-written classic story like Frankenstein provides, in some ways, an easier introduction to the text than the novel; the prose has been rewritten to suit a more modern audience, and the interactivity breaks the reading into short chunks, with the question-and-answer format giving students opportunities to reflect on what they’ve read and respond to it. For students who have already studied the text, the interactivity provides a way of exploring different takes on Mary Shelley’s story and the characterisation of its protagonists. Frankenstein isn’t a game. It’s not about winning or losing or solving puzzles. It’s a deep literary experience .
In the classroom, interactive writing offers an innovative, fun environment in which to write stories. It teaches creativity, language, computer skills and logical thinking – all at the same time! From within a web-browser(means you don’t need to download anything), the inklewriter will let students make and play interactive stories with no programming required. Here inkle studio has some tips for teachers using it in classrooms. Now there is even a “Future Voices Competition” which gives winners the opportunities to have their works published on iOS App store, and of course, prizes.
Maybe this kind of learning is or isn’t considered as game-based learning, actually it’s a text game through which the reading and writing literacy are enhanced. We are optimistic that interactive fictions will flourish on tablets, and will have more ways to enrich our reading experience. Now reading isn’t defined as receiving long narratives passively anymore.