From socializing with friends to tracking finances, the iPad makes most experiences more interactive. Thanks to Versu, even the self-contained process of reading is now more immersive. Versu’s creator, Linden Labs, brought us Second Life and Creatorverse, and now the enterprising developer takes on story telling, offering users a gamified reading experience that is part sim game, part choose-your-own-adventure.
This iPad-only app includes two free interactive shorts, “The Unwelcome Proposal,” adapted from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and “The House on the Cliff,” a gothic tale of a carriage ride gone wrong. These stories, as well as the tutorial, were all written by Emily Short, a pseudonymous writer with a penchant for interactive fiction. The stories are free for a limited time, though users have the option to purchase one additional tale, “Family Supper” for $4.99.
In the tutorial the reader acts as Lucy, an 18th century school girl whose grandmama instructs her how to behave in society as the wizened elder simultaneously informs the reader how to use Versu. The tutorial demonstrates just how much control the reader has over the story’s fate. As Grandmama says, “There is so much a young lady can do, even in a drawing room.” Readers can play along, pleasing Grandmama, or decide it would be more entertaining to annoy the guests, then proceed to kick stuffy Mrs. Quinn in the shin and tip over her tea cup.
Don’t be afraid to stir up a little trouble in Versu’s universe (can I call it the Versuverse yet, or is it too soon?) because, as Grandmama tells Lucy, “the relationships that you form with other characters last for the duration of a single episode.” In most of the stories the reader may also choose not only what to do, but which character he wishes to play, so Versu offers readers the chance to experience the same encounter from a number of different perspectives.
Download Versu now from the App Store for free.