January 14, 2016

The ebook of the future

Nate Hoffelder documents another attempt to revive that digital zombie of the reading world, the interactive novel. A long-forgotten tech bubble was the hypertext CD-ROM boomlet back in the mid-1990s. The era did produce the bestseller Myst, which was more of a game than a work of narrative fiction.

CD-ROMs did pay off big-time in the less glamorous field of database indexing. When I was in graduate school, a single IBM XT loaded with the ERIC index on CD-ROM was the most useful reference tool in the library. (Nowadays, it's available online for free.)

As the old joke goes, the interactive novel is the ebook of the future, and always will be. Though that is not necessarily true abroad and may be changing here at home.

Because for as long as the "interactive novel" hasn't succeeded in the U.S., the "visual novel" has been huge in Japan, with studios like Key VisualArts becoming major players in manga, anime, feature films, and "light novels."

While manga and anime have carved out profitable niches in Western markets, the visual novel has only recently found a tentative (though growing) foothold. It's another one of those touchstones that encompasses a universe of cultural differences (as usual, the easiest explanation is introverts vs. extroverts).

To better understand what the visual novel is all about, I recommend Rockmandash's Beginner's Guide To Visual Novels.

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# posted by Anonymous Dan
1/15/2016 7:32 PM   
>> There’s this flat screen inside with pictures on it and you read it. And when you get down to the bottom you have to make a choice of what the character’s going to do… Like if he going to go in and fight the dragon then you have to push one of the buttons. … See, there’s a computer chip inside which stores the choices, so when you reach the end of the page, you decide where the story goes. That’s the point.” ~ Grown-up Josh (played by Tom Hanks) in the 1988 movie Big
# posted by Blogger Joe
1/16/2016 10:18 PM   
The interactive novel has succeeded; in the form of video games. The latest Tomb Raider, Far Cry, World of Warcraft, etc. all have story elements.