Leopold Broom Investigates: The Interactive Book

by Lee Cross

Gaming has clearly learned lessons from literature and used them to move forward in ways that would probably have been unthinkable to the creators of the Commodore-64.

Maybe internet Gaming is where publishers should now be looking, in an effort to keep themselves relevant to the wider world as the future becomes past.

So, I have this idea…

leopold-broomI’d suggest that every novel published in the modern era is available somewhere in digital form, and by modern era I mean since the birth of Christ… or at least since the birth of L. Ron Hubbard (…I like to consider myself an equal opportunities atheist…). People are already trending towards reading novels in the digital form; and why shouldn’t they…aside from the obvious, that by doings so you are selling your soul to Satan in exchange for a lighter bag of books (Just kidding… I don’t believe in Satan… those soulless bastards and their kindles are fine by me).

When the technology is there, it demands to be used… electric windows in cars… TV’s with remote controls… online check-in and boarding passes… why should the worlds of books be immune from labour saving devices?

How long, I wonder, until tech advances far enough to give us access to the first truly interactive book. Like the first video game, you could save… or the first console that utilized real-time online interactions. Could the next advance in storytelling be a symbiotic evolution, utilizing elements of cutting edge gaming technology?

Imagine the digital novel that wrote itself to the readers tastes…I’m just spit-balling here…but imagine a book that reads you, as you read it.

The first generation could be simple enough – with your purchase of ‘Lee Cross and the Magic Banana’ (I’m totally copywriting the shit out of that FYI), you are informed that before you can start reading the novel, on your soulless digital device naturally, you have to fill in a small questionnaire, that’s one part a psychometric study and the other basic personal information.

I’m keeping this simple remember; so let’s start with a love story (be that, 50 Shades of Lee Cross and The Magic Banana, or Romeo, Juliet and The Magic Banana), the simplest and most worthy story of them all.

Using the data collected pre-read, why couldn’t the story be adjusted to accommodate for something as simple as a reader’s sexuality? Think of that great leap of faith it takes to reveal your true nature to family and friends for the first time, what an incredible plot point in the love story of a homosexual man or woman; something that would have no place or relevance in a story of heterosexual love.

Faith is another example (as I’ve touched on my own beliefs above), surely that would be something that could be established from a few screens of brief ‘closed-questioning’; something that might have a real impact on the way a love story unfolds.

Like I said, I’m basically just making this shit up as I type – but the theory seems sound (at least to my own ears). That technology already exists in Gaming, say in the choice between whether you are good or bad… whether your avatar lives like Phileas Fogg or Napoleon Bonaparte (I’ll tweet that article if I can find it).

Why can’t, or how long will it be, before readers can make those basic choices too?

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