Some of you reading this may remember the Choose Your Own Adventure books that first became popular back in the 1980's (yeah, I'm showing my age here). They told exciting stories in a unique way by going against the standard linear format of books & print texts. They were highly engaging, very visual & interactive, and heaps of fun!
Likewise, movies such as Pulp Fiction, Revolving Doors or Love Actually, attracted audiences with their different approach to story telling, stories within stories.
Literary devices such as post-modern fiction, metafiction, nested narratives, parallel stories all happening at the same time yet occasionally linking through some common thread – all these elements we recognise & respond to, as they fit our fast-paced experience of our own world.
In answer to this need for new content, authors and artists come up with non-passive art forms, that encourage active enjoyment, by participating rather than just viewing. Interactive content with intersecting storylines, that seem to defy the traditional use of narrative and linear sequences, creating an intriguing experience that compels participants to come back for more.
So one would think that ICTs were the perfect vehicle to integrate these new, non-traditional literary elements in an engaging way. An author by the name of Iaian Pears has taken the initiative, and done just that. He has created an interactive fictional text that interweaves several characters and their stories, both visually and textually, to create a fascinating story with many ways to read it. The visual aspect looks like a mind-map, reflecting the many tangents our brain will follow through higher-order thinking.
It is examples of the use of ICTs such as this, that bring the promise of improved literacy and engagement through clever application of technology. Participants can truly choose their own adventure, their own story. When given choice, they are also given the chance to join in on their own terms, whereby they are more likely to learn and think deeply. For a generation that is falling behind in literacy skills, it seems there is hope yet.
I must admit, I have personally downloaded this app, and so far it looks very interesting. The text is simple, and provided in small sections, long enough to get stuck into, but small enough to not get overwhelmed. This is coupled with lovely visual navigation and colour coding, so you can see where you are and change your course if you wish at any time.
From a RAT perspective, I believe that this app not only Replaces and Amplifies traditional text, but also Transforms the reading experience by inviting the reader to take control of the story. By utilising interactive fiction in this way, it can change passive reading to an active & challenging experience that inspires more creative thinking.