Leopold Broom Investigates: Books & Gaming: A Reading Utopia

by Lee Cross

I’ve been running with thoughts of ‘the interactive video book’ (bit corny maybe but I have to call it something; right?) since I wrote the second part of my Gaming/Literature blog and wonder how far we can push the idea(s).

leopold-broomIf I may force my magic banana down your throat just one more time (at this point I’m hoping to hell that everyone has read part one & two of this blog) why couldn’t it be the story of how a 6y/o Lee Cross discovers a magic banana tree growing in the woods near his house. The fruit, if I may steal the basic premise of BananaMan, could give whoever ate it super powers, which my narcissistically named hero could use to make the world a better place for him and his classmates.

Surely the question is simply one of bits, bytes, processing power and battery life… if the technology exists, why couldn’t a story be re-written to such an extreme extent? …and that’s before we take into account whether it’s a story about Lee or Leigh, and if he or she falls in love with Lee or Leigh, and whether God has any place in their affair whatsoever.

Don’t even get me started on the varying connotations of Lee, Leigh, God’s, banana’s and magic… quite honestly, I don’t think my laptop has the bits, bytes, battery life or processing power!

Just how far could we push the concept – perhaps to the fully interactive reading experience. A deceive that measures; pupil dilation, heart-rate, average attention span… a novel that is constantly monitoring how it is being experienced and is adjusting accordingly! Could you imagine such a thing???

That’s enough of the fantastical possibilities of the future from me because honestly, who knows where technology will lead us, or how quickly we’ll arrive there. Point of fact; I remember watching Back to the Future II as a kid and not believing that video calling could ever exist, so I’m not ruling out even the invention of a Time Machine in my lifetime.

What will it mean to books, the medium I love above all others… Well, we could be on the verge of a new age, all of us being able to read an effective never ending story catered to our own whims and wills – all of us reading a perfect novel every time we chose to download a page.

Will that be the ultimate and final evolution of the novel? – No. It Will Not.

Usually, I’m open to the possibility that I could be wrong in my opinions (video calling is only one example of the folly of certainty), or that my own intellectual limitations might one day be expanded by learning and/or experience – but not this time.

There will always be a place for the classic novel. Always.

It boils down to the idea of, ‘a thousand monkeys with a thousand typewriters’, I mentioned at the beginning of this blog.

The monkeys can get as smart as they want, the typewriters can advance in ways that will forever be beyond my understanding… but they will always be, even at their very best, just approximations of the Great Writers – best guesses and pale imitations of the Shakespeare’s, Tolkien’s and Helleur’s.

This concept of the story being built around YOU is great and will undoubtedly produce novels that would be rated highly and appear on numerous best-seller lists… BUT those great novels, I’m talking about the REALLY GREAT ONES, take you to places you never knew you wanted to go. They introduce ideas and concepts that you might find distasteful; or maybe take you in directions you might never think to look (think of Atticus Finch or Frodo Baggins or Christopher John Francis Boone) without promoting.

The enjoyment of those great stories is your mind reaching to places beyond its own limitations. Interaction and stories built by and to your tastes, while potentially very good reads, will never be as great because they’ll just be those thousand monkeys, with their thousand typewriters, giving you unfathomably sophisticated recreations of where your mind has been before …telling you things you want to hear.

The one thing that technology won’t ever be able to recreate is Inspiration.

[Note: I honestly made the ideas discussed in this blog up as I typed them. It’s possible, even likely, that some form of this technology already exists out there somewhere and, If so, I’d love to hear about it. I’m Leopoldbroom@gmail.com or available here if you want to post a comment and let me know of your experiences. Many Thanks – Lee.]

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