Interactivity interupts immersion?

At the Observer, Anna Baddeley looked at an iPad version of The Thirty-Nine Steps. She concludes:

I find interactivity exasperating. Prod, prod, prod to reveal gobbets of text, trace code symbols with your finger to unlock a door, search for a notebook and tap to look inside: it’s engaging for five minutes, but then it’s just tiring. Especially because the pace is determined not by you, but the app.

This seems a pretty compelling point. Perhaps because one kind of narrative, a linear textual story, is being forced into a different form: a more organic game-like interface?

Interesting too, that a whiz-bang interface has the effect of slowing down a reading. Puzzles are part of the appeal of game playing, of course, and stories contain puzzles. But these are different animals. A computer game may trap you in a locked room until you’ve discovered a combination. A traditional narrative sweeps you forward even while you wrestle with its enigmas. Being forced to put a story on hold for any reason could make for a frustrating reading experience.


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