Monday, 22 July 2013

Fixing Gamebooks 6: Don't break the story spell

What happens when we add interaction to story?

I've been reading Alan Moore's Writing For Comics. It may be wafer thin but it's a dense, insightful read. One statement got me thinking about my musings on gamebook interactivity...

A successful story of any kind should be almost like hypnosis
Alan Moore

He goes on to argue that a well crafted story pulls you deep under its spell, warning that 'violent' or 'clumsy' elements can easily break the readers self induced hypnosis, snapping them back into reality. For comics, he cites switching between scenes as a particular problem area, it's a moment where a narrative thread is cut and spliced with another. It is a storyteller's duty to handle the transition well and preserve the suspension of disbelief.

What then, would Mr. Moore make of narrative intrusions such as skill tests, dice fights or even just a simple multiple choice menu?! Adding meaningful interactivity to digital stories is an interesting challenge in itself, but even the inclusion of 'desired' interactivity could be disruptive to an audiences sense of immersion. How would a reader react when they suddenly hit a point of interaction like a brick wall?