As a child, I was not an avid reader. In fact, the only reading I would voluntarily engage with were non-fiction titles that related to my nerdy passions and interests (they still exist today). One author changed all that when a new breed of adventure book was handed to me, where I had complete control of the outcome of the story thanks to choices on offer during the book. I often have wondered what the books were, as I felt that they would have a place in engaging boys and reading – giving them a genre of fiction that offers choice, flexibility and excitement, as well as an element of setting the destination of the story.
I was recently enthused when I saw an iPad app that drew on these stories, turning them into story adventure apps using the original texts. So, who was the author who got me engaged with fictional texts? It turns out that it was Ian Livingstone, who wrote the Fighting Fantasy™ Gamebooks. Along with Steve Jackson, Livingstone introduced these books in 1982, eventually selling 15 million copies in 23 languages.
You can view the series of books via Amazon. Click here ->Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks
The move onto iPads is quite an undertaking, but the developers at Tin Man Games have managed to create a truly engaging app, that live true to the original gamebooks. Also available on Android (click here to view in the Google Play store, or the Amazon App Store), the app allows the reader to bookmark, animated page-turning, dynamic links and an automated adventure sheet to show changing statistics and inventory. The reader can also roll 3D dice to fight the myriad of strange denizens that inhabit the jungle and swamps.
Ian Livingstone is delighted with the apps:
Tin Man Games have succeeded brilliantly in capturing the essence of Fighting Fantasy, re-imagining Island of the Lizard King for digital audiences. The new features are great, auto-mapping in particular, and readers will need all the help they can get to deal with the Gongchong and Lizard Men who are looking forward to welcoming hapless victims to their island!
If you want to re-live the original, a retro mode is included for fans, which displays the classic black and white illustrations.
The latest release is Fighting Fantasy: Island of the Lizard King.
In reviewing this app, it was clear to appreciate the love and attention that has gone into the design, staying true to the original texts. The animated dice, the options, the auto-mapping and other features within the app do not distract from the story, and I was devastated when I ran out of stamina and the game was over. My lesson was learnt as I started my adventure for the second time. The interactive nature of the app added to the experience and, once again, I can see how this app (and other similar ones) can get children engaged in reading as they offer a sense of choice, control and enjoyment. Easily useable within the classroom, or as a recommendation to get children reading.
The books listed are aimed at children over the age of 9, and is ideal to get pupils engaged in reading fiction stories.
The app / gamebooks are priced £3.99* and available to view in the Apple App Store. Click here to view and/or purchase.
Updated 05 February 2014.