NARR8, the interactive kick that books need?

NARR8 logo

Even here in the nerd world, it is rare for the written word to cause a commotion. How many times in your life have you heard of people lining up at midnight for a book to go on sale, you know, outside of the Harry Potter series? On the other hand, movies, video games and television shows are repeatedly thrust into the spotlight of the masses, breaking free of their respective nerd-cocoons. It does seem strange that a lot of ideas in entertainment are conceived and published in written form first, later to be adapted, but they rarely gain popularity until they’ve leapt from their paper prisons. Enter NARR8, an interactive multimedia reading experience that’s looking to shake things up.

iOS: 5.1 or later
Android: 4.0 or later

jam in trouble narr8

NARR8 is an app for Android and iOS that gives writers the ability to add a number of additional elements to their digital pages; things like pictures above the text, background graphics, themed borders, animations, music, sounds, and some interactivity. While, yes, books can add some of those things, they usually don’t. The reason they don’t add them often is because they not only cost money to create, but they also add a tremendous amount to the cost of printing. In this regard, NARR8 has a major advantage over books.

Here’s an example of a motion comic, “JAM”, with a video game theme:

One thing that greatly differentiates NARR8 from the standard reading experience is the interactivity. One novel that I was shown had a simple mini-game in it that had the reader shooting thugs in an alley at an appropriate time in the story. A motion comic meant for kids had many sections in which a swipe would cause an action to occur and continue the story (with the option of watching, swipe free). An educational tool called Chronographics teaches about various subjects, such as the history of animation. The effect is sort of what you would get if a popup book turned digital, and wasn’t limited by page sizes.

Here’s a trailer for an educational experience, dubbed Paradigm:

As a fan of Lost Odyssey, the Xbox 360 RPG, I have hope in something like NARR8 becoming the norm. In Lost Odyssey, the main character Kaim would occasionally have dreams. These dreams were short stories that had backgrounds that occasionally changed, ambient sounds (sea gulls, the ocean, wind etc.), and music. They were similar to reading a book, but the added elements enhanced the immersion. While I am still fine with books as they are, I see these interactive digital books as just another medium to experience a story in a unique way.

There was talk of one day allowing users to submit their own works. Though nothing is finalized, I was told that the split might be around sixty percent of the profits for writers. Thankfully, they will have a submission process, asking writers/artists to alter things that aren’t quite up to NARR8’s standards. If all goes well, self-publishing on NARR8 could be one of the best ways for artists and writers to break into the industry.

All in all, I think NARR8 is an interesting app. It seems as though NARR8 is serious about updating the stories they publish, so readers shouldn’t be kept waiting for too long for their next fix. There’s a decent amount of variety in themes and types of interactive experiences, and the art is generally good quality.

Check out the trailer for Multiverse:

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