A breathtaking new way of telling a story on iOS
Storytelling apps can be compelling downloads on the iPad, given their ability to not only draw you in visually and by surrounding you with audio, but also through their interactivity.
Chopsticks has completely rewritten the formula for eBooks and how the user engages with them. In this story of young love between a piano prodigy, Glory, and the boy next door, Frank, there is in fact no narrative text. Instead their story is gradually unveiled to you through a series of photo albums, ticket stubs and handwritten notes that leave all the blanks for you to fill in. Very little about the actual characters is ever explicitly confirmed to you. Indeed, the only time you get any kind of hard facts is through the various newspaper clippings detailing Glory’s musical career. Everything else is as though we have sneaked into the attic and are going through boxes of their things in chronological order. It’s a fascinating experience, as the characters remain mysterious throughout the story, yet you find out about them through seeing their intimate belongings.
To make this experience engaging, there are large amounts of interactivity on offer – for example, you can move photos in albums to reveal others, while tapping news clippings sees key passages underlined as though someone else is tracking the story as you are. The whole thing is almost voyeuristic, something we’ve never encountered before in an eBook. To help you spot areas of interactive material there are animated music notes hovering on the page to draw your attention to certain things, as skipping over even one could miss out a vital piece of the story.
Another example of interactivity that has the effect of almost placing you in the room with the characters is the instant messaging chats that intersperse the storyline. Complete with the genuine MSN Messenger alert sound and pop-up messages, it looks and feels authentic, and gives the impression as a user that you’re looking over the shoulder of either Glory or Frank as they type.
Putting these unique features aside for a moment, Chopsticks is a great piece of design, with smooth page transitions and eye-catching photography that has a vintage flavour to it, something that came back into style recently alongside the rise of apps like Instagram. Just looking through this app without fully immersing yourself is an interesting experience, because without text Chopsticks has to work hard to grab and keep your attention focused on the plot. Yet it does this effortlessly with its use of imagery and artwork that clearly spells out this love story so you don’t need words to explain it.
Chopsticks then is a revolution in eBook presentation, placing the job of character development in the hands of the user, but at the same time taking you deeper into the intimate details of characters’ lives than seems possible, yet it is done with great lightness of touch. The simple fact is, if you download and read this book, you are not going to be forgetting it in a hurry.
An entirely new breed of eBook that turns storytelling on its head.
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