Sunday, 25 March 2012

Thoughts on the mobile-fiction genre

‘Detective Saunders?’ the woman asks as you answer the phone.

‘It’s my sister, Meryl. She’s gone missing. I need your help.’

After stumbling across Zombies, Run, the running-slash-fiction app, a few week’s ago, I’ve been giving some thought to the mobile-fiction genre. It's got me all excitable.

Zombies, Run offered you an interactive experience. And it was brilliant; you ran, the story progressed. Since then, I’ve been ruminating on where the genre can go next; what other fiction experiences can you offer with just a phone, a GPS signal and a bucket load of cash?

And this is what I’ve come up with. Any notes are in brackets.

The app puts you in the shoes of Detectie Saunders, a hard-boiled investigator. You haven’t had a case for weeks. And then the phone rings.

(The Heist, a simple iPhone app, offers the same sort of feature. During the game, you ‘get a call’ from a thief named Sophia. It’s automated, but adds a nice experience to a fairly standard puzzle game).

The woman on the phone offers you a case. Her sister, a fairly prominent socialite, has gone missing. You, Detective Saunders, must find her.

The sister was last seen in a museum. As you walk towards the museum to hunt for clues, your phone rings. It’s an old partner of yours. He has a new case for you.

(Detectives always have two cases on)

You put it out of your mind. Enter the museum. Pull out your phone and inform the client that you have arrived.

(via a Foursquare check in)

The game informs you that you have found a clue; a box of matches on the floor with an address of a bar, close to the museum, scrawled on the side. You check into the bar, redeem the 50% off cocktails voucher exclusive to the app, and receive another clue and another location. Meet a contact in the park by 3pm.

(Of course, you wouldn't actually be meeting anyone, although I like the idea of a time-sensitive user action)

‘I had no idea what I was getting myself into,’ gruffly narrates Saunders as you walk to the next location.

The case is on.

And that’s about all I’ve got. Again, I’m just throwing ideas to the wall and seeing what sticks, so I haven’t considered the technical and practical implications. On reflection, it's probably a bit too complicated for your average user. Still, it's always fun imagining what could be.

And really, I just want someone to build this so I can pretend to own a detective agency.

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