The Picturebook App as Event: Interactivity and Immersion in Wuwu & Co.
This article explores analytical perspectives from theatre studies as an approach to analysing interactivity in picturebook apps, using the critically acclaimed Danish picturebook app Wuwu & Co. – A Magical Picturebook (2014) by Merete Pryds Helle and Kamila Slocinska as a case study. Drawing on theatre scholar Willmar Sauter’s analytical concept the theatrical event, the article proposes that interactive digital narratives for children should be analysed as events, as interactivity takes place between a reader and the work. To discuss the interactive features of the app, the article applies literature scholar Marie-Laure Ryan’s theories of narrative as virtual reality, especially with regards to the relationship between interactivity and immersion. In the analysis, the interactive features are examined with regards to both how the reader is allowed to participate as co-creator of the narrative as well as how the interactivity is experienced. The analysis shows what can be described as a discrepancy between the interactive and immersive experiences offered, caused by the interactive features that at different moments interrupt either temporal, spatial or emotional immersion. This happens even though the interactivity with Ryan’s terms can be described as internal-ontological, and thus as related to the narrative. As a consequence, a discussion of the significance of interactivity in digital narratives for children cannot be limited to including the formal, intra-fictional relationship between the narrative and the interactive features. Rather, it must also include the reader and the reading experience. This means that an analysis of interactivity in digital narratives on tablets will have to include both a discussion of how the interactive features are intended to work, and further, an evaluation of the actual effect of the interactive feature, when realised by a reader in a live event.
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