Yes, that's YOUR intention. YOU: the reader.
The use of the direct 2nd Person as the underlying narrative style in World Adventure Kids was a very deliberate choice on my part, with affective, interactive and linguistic rationales in mind.
For a start, this is a powerful way to 'insert' the reader directly into the story. It is appropriate for a narrative whereby the reader makes the choices and finds out where the adventures go based on his/her own decisions.
But I think it is an important affective device as well. For reluctant readers in particular, I think personal involvement (and a sense of freedom through the story options) can do a lot to pique their interest about what happens and why. I can recall my first experiences with Choose Your Own Adventure and Fighting Fantasy storybooks, at about age 10, and loving the sensation that I was in charge, that this was my adventure and not the far-fetched exploits of some abstract fabricated character I might never really relate to.
This format also allows for a deeper sense of interaction. The picture you can see at the top of this post comes from a section of one of the adventures where YOU have decided it could be fun or fame-enhancing to go and meet the Hi-Merima (a genuine Uncontacted People secreted away deep in the Amazon) and be the first modern person to do so. As you can tell, your team members aren't impressed with the idea. Panther Step warns it could be dangerous for you (the collective you this time) as the Hi-Merima have a fierce reputation. Think Sharp, your science expert, points out some of the risks modern humans pose for Uncontacted Peoples who have limited immune systems...
This is just one of a great number of interactions that take place in the stories between you, the reader, and the team members you go adventuring with. In a way it adds more life to the characters as well as the story. You get to see different sides of your co-adventurers and their personalities based on the decisions you make during the story.
And then there is your interaction with the story itself. Certain sections finish up with a direct question to you, and the options for going ahead are phrased in the 1st person.
For example (this was the text immediately preceding the scene depicted above):
It does, admittedly, put words in your mouth to some extent, but at least you get to choose which words they are, and you get to see what happens as a result of those words.
Last but not least, I like what this format does linguistically. The 2nd Person (combined with Present Simple tense) makes for beautifully direct and simple language. In my opinion, it helps to keep the narrative clean and simple, especially for struggling readers or second language learners. It also, to some extent, presents more language that is more relevant to spoken or personal English -- something that only happens in regular 3rd person and past tense narratives via dialogue sections.
Admittedly, those (more common) narrative styles yield a lot of precious language models as well, but I think the World Adventure Kids format makes for a valuable (different) supplementary model as well as a potentially rich source of comparison and noticing.
I might even venture so far as to say that narrative employing a lot of 2nd Person and Present Simple tense can facilitate easier access to reading, for those who might benefit from it. And the format of the reader-directed story means this happens in a way that feels natural, not contrived.
What do you want to do now?
- I think I'll leave a comment here telling the writer what I think of his ideas
- I'll go back to my web-surfing now and look for something more worthy of my attention!