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Nancy Drew Mobile Mysteries: Shadow Ranch

The ‘Nancy Drew Mobile Mysteries’ are ‘choose your own adventure’ type text-based stories with embedded mini-games and animations. They’re published by games developers Her Interactive.

It’s an interesting question whether these will be consumed in time that might otherwise be spent reading a paper book, or in time spent playing games. More traditional games based on the Nancy Drew brand are available for PC, Wii, Nintendo DS and Mac, also published by Her Interactive. Simon and Schuster still publish the novels – which have sold more than 80 million copies since Nancy first appeared in 1930 – and Papercutz publish graphic novels featuring Nancy (and the Hardy Boys). There have also been films and TV series over the years. You can enjoy Nancy’s story in a whole range of ways.

I expect the readers won’t see reading the game-books as a replacing reading or gaming, but as something enjoyable to do. But thinking about whether it’s a reading-time or games-time activity should help publishers work out what their consumers expectations are, where and how the products ought to be sold, and crucially how the consumers are prepared to concentrate and interact with what’s in front of them.

Whether a game-book shows or tells, whether it suggests interaction is possible or takes readers for a linear ride, and whether this happens consistently throughout the story; creative decisions like these should be guided by what is meaningful experience for the reader at the time they’ve chosen to read or play. How we experience reading or playing is of course something that is open to change all the time.

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