Holiday time and I’m catching up on those downloaded apps I haven’t really had time to play with yet. And then I come across the interactive fiction folder I created in January. In particular, an ‘app-story’ called MetaHuman caught my eye. Many hours later, I had played through it a few times, with different story paths and endings each time. But what I liked most was how my character’s abilities, relationships, and characteristics changed with each different combination of choices.
The best interactive fiction apps are those which are like regular choose-your-own-adventure books – but with an added series of graphs showing the consequences of your choices on things like friendships, personality, and your moral stance on issues. The main character is usually customizable, and the best interactive fiction also leaves room for solving mysteries by entering solutions to problems. And, like all good fiction, they raise some interesting philosophical and ethical issues to ponder. (MetaHuman raises issues around magic versus science, human body augmentation, and profit versus people.)
Naturally, my teacher brain turned immediately to the possible benefits of these types of interactive stories in education. Although these are not as visually immersive as games, they are engaging in their own way. My feeling is that, under the right kind of guidance from the teacher, interactive fiction could be used to develop a variety of progressive skills. Reading, discussing and reflecting on these stories, whether individually, in pairs or in small groups, has to be a very cool way to develop children’s consequential thinking abilities, ethical and social understanding, critical thinking acumen, and problem-solving/ decision-making skills.
Choice of Games is my favorite developer of these interactive text-based games and they have a ton of app-stories available for download. Some stories are more suitable for younger children, and others for younger teens. Most of them are paid apps or have in-app purchases, so please read the reviews beforehand. They are even willing to pay for contributions.
Update: You’ll find even more interactive fiction under the ‘Hosted Games LLC’ developer heading. Most of these as well as the Choice of Games titles are also available on Steam as well as the Google Play store.