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Monday, 9 April 2012

Frankenstein: the SFX interview - part two

Today, the second of journalist Stephen Jewell’s questions for SFX magazine about my interactive version of Frankenstein, gorgeously designed by graphic-and-code digital-era typesetters, Inkle Studios, and published by Profile Books.

Stephen asked,
“How will your Frankenstein differ from reading or viewing other films and books of Frankenstein? Also, how will it differ from traditional video games? Would you call it an e-book as such?”
It is a book, but it’s certainly not just another ebook. How is it different? Well, comparing it with games first of all: in a game, typically your interaction is mostly with the environment and your goal is to solve problems. That’s a huge over-simplification, but bear with me. In Frankenstein, you’re interacting with the character on a very personal level and your goal is to forge a relationship with him. You do get to influence how things turn out – by making suggestions to Victor Frankenstein, for instance – but you’ve got to gain his trust, and in any case he’s a free agent. He won’t always do what you say.

Looking at the novel, the thing there is that the original book can be pretty off-putting. It’s a great concept but it’s difficult to wade through Mary Shelley’s prose and all those long agonized Goth-boy monologues as Victor tells you how hard done by he is. And for modern readers that tends to leave you on the outside looking in. You don’t connect, which is why a lot of people only know the story from movies. The novel is hard going.

The new version is very much more personal, emotional, and immediate. Instead of the long, telling monologue in Mary Shelley’s original novel, my goal has been to set up a dialogue with the main character. You get to know Victor Frankenstein a lot more. You can really engage with him and find out why he’s doing what he does. And you should come away feeling like you’ve experienced the story immersively, right there along with Victor.

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