MANILA, PHILIPPINES – Interactive fiction may sound unfamiliar, but it’s something we’re all familiar with. Just like in other parts of the world, choose-your-own-adventure books reached their heyday in the Philippines several decades ago. This genre is interactive fiction.
While print books may have pioneered interactive fiction – and hypertext may have continued it online – the best venue for this genre may be audio. Interactive audiobooks and audio-based games started to emerge during the advent of mobile and accelerated with the rise of voice recognition. Now people could engage with their interactive audiobooks and play audio-based games on voice-enabled devices, like the Amazon Echo, purely by issuing voice commands.
To make it easier for Filipino writers and content creators to create work in this genre, Bookshelf PH has partnered with Wanderword, a technology company headquartered in Sweden focused on the interactive audio entertainment industry.
Bookshelf PH, a publishing house focused on books, ebooks, and audiobooks has licensed Wanderword’s latest product, Fabella, a visual editor that enables the authoring and deployment of interactive audio content to Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and smartphones as well as web. Wanderworld CEO Johan Strömberg is proud to introduce this technology to the Philippines.
“The Philippines is ripe for an explosion in interactive fiction. The country has been an early adopter and leader in both SMS and social. This digital-savvy will lend itself well to works in this genre. I could easily see the Philippines becoming a hub for interactive fiction, across both audiobooks and audio-based games,” he said.
Powered by Fabella, Bookshelf PH will be producing an in-house line of interactive audiobooks.
“There’s something special about non-linear storytelling. These kinds of interactive audiobooks put the player in the role of the protagonist, where they can actively shape the course of the story rather than just read what happens. Such interactivity is an immersive experience like no other. You literally have to think like the character,” said Monette Quiogue, Bookshelf PH’s executive creative director.
The Bookshelf PH team also believes the strength of interactive fiction is in their community- building. Since a story can take many different paths, readers naturally discuss the branches they took and the ending they received across social media, blogs, and even traditional media. Such publicity is of course invaluable to emerging and established authors looking to build their authority and generate more media presence.
Bookshelf PH is also eager to publish third-party works because interactive audiobooks naturally lend themselves to a multitude of different genres. This includes romance, where you can choose how you want to approach your romantic counterpart; fantasy, where you can choose how to fight your enemies and level up in the process; and even mystery, where you must choose how to correctly solve the crime at hand.
While interactive fiction has tended to revolve around certain story types, the Bookshelf PH team is eager to see novel applications of the genre.
“Filipinos are endlessly creative. I’m sure the best interactive fiction in audio to come out of the Philippines will innovate the genre. I’m excited to support authors to bring these stories to life as their publisher, and I’m even more excited to experience these works as a reader and listener,” said Kyle Nate, Bookshelf PH’s deputy editorial director, who added that she is welcome to collaboration across the industry, including from self-published authors, freelance writers, students, and even brands that author books.