Interactive fiction is a term for text based stories where the reader participates. Interactive fiction had a boom in the 80’s under the brands of Choose Your Own Adventure and Pick a Path. Interactive fiction is now evolving in the Ebook environment.
The reading environment of children has changed since computers and tablets became the norm in homes. These devices have presented huge boons to learning but do not tend to encourage sustained reading. After learning to recognise letters and sounds and basic vocab, early readers benefit from extending themselves with longer texts. Children of the digital age can take a little longer to discover the benefits of reading.
Interactive fiction may be a useful genre for reluctant readers.
Well constructed interactive fiction is fun and cognitively rewarding. When Deb Potter was developing her first interactive adventure she visited schools and tried out her stories. “I learned a lot about the choosing process. I’d already read many old style interactive books and I knew some were more satisfying then others, it wasn’t just the dynamic of the stories – it was how choice was presented.”
Deb learned that choices were part of the writer/reader contract.
“If there’s no hint of danger you can’t just have the reader killed by a giant squid because they picked to turn right. There is no pleasure in that. The pleasure lies in safely navigating towards a goal or exploring story. It’s equally satisfying to flout rules and take risks in story, where things can, and often will, go horribly wrong. ”
Deb thinks another benefit of interactive fiction may be experiencing autonomy. “Kids tend to be more sheltered these days but parents know they still need exposure to rational decision making, interactive fiction provides a vicarious experience of action and consequence.”