The concept of a digital story isn’t a new one to me. I remember being seven years old and playing interactive storybooks on my old desktop Dell. At the time, I wasn’t able to be impressed by the creativeness behind the games and activities that went along with the story, nor was I able to grasp the concept of how literature was starting to evolve. However, after experiencing the novella PRY, I look back at those simple computer games fondly, acknowledging the ancestors of interactive stories that PRY and all future interactive stories have. PRY takes a different approach to the interactive stories than I remember. PRY isn’t like reading a story where you had the option to play a side game that illustrated a point or watch a short clip that explained a scene or even like playing a video game where if you wanted you could take the time to read the journal in that one room that gives a bit of backstory to a character. The creators of PRY utilize the touch screen of iPads and iPhones in order for readers to experience what the main character of the story is doing, whether it be prying open their eyes and seeing what James is seeing or delving deeper into his subconscious.
Not only does PRY bring a visually stunning world to the reader’s fingertips, it contributes an intriguing story as well. PRY is about a Gulf War vet, James. PRY explores James’ past with his friends Jessie and Luke while also giving glimpse of James’ childhood and family. It’s hard to describe what someone will learn about these characters. In order to learn the clear picture of what happened to James, the reader has to pry into the story. It can be frustrating for some to not have the full story once they go through the app, but for others, like myself, the process of approaching the chapters a different way to gain new information is one that can be very appealing. The story presented isn’t a full story for many reasons. The first being that PRY is not complete and that the rest of the chapters will come as an update later on. The second being that it’s a mystery. Readers aren’t spoon fed information on what is going on or what happened in the past. They have to seek out answers and reread chapters to make sure they gleaned everything available to them. While this option doesn’t sound like the easiest way to go about reading a story, the creators of PRY highly recommend going through chapters multiple times in order to receive all the information available to them. I found that despite the creators encouragement to go through the chapters again, the plot was intriguing enough for me to want to discover all of James’ secretes.
When someone experiences a story like PRY, it’s easy to be swept away by the technological advance it is for literature. But if a reader goes into PRY just looking for an app to play on, they’ll be highly disappointed. The key to enjoying PRY is to appreciate the technology but to get lost in the story.
If you think you’d be interested in experiencing PRY, I’d recommend watching its trailer. The trailer gives a brief look at the story as well as demonstrating how a reader participates with the text.