The birth and development of the “computer game” has of course taken a completely different direction from the paper-based novel. “Readers” have such latitude – (burn the village or trade with the natives?) – that the author has very limited control over the course of events, and has to resort to heavy-handed deus-ex-machina to steer the story. Sometimes they can get the thrill of sequential discovery as the mystery unravels and the plot thickens, but usually it’s just one forced crisis after another.
I have an experimental story format I’m working on sporadically, called “Blarneywood Forest”. You can perhaps find the beginnings of it on my website if you look. The idea is that the interface is much like a website-research-investigation, where your interests take you to little short stories and articles that spark your interest and curiosity and make you dig deeper. Here we get the reveals as each level of depth is explored. You don’t get to read the April 15, 2009 newspaper articles until you learn that this is an important date, and so forth. Gradually the story unfolds.
In this case, the surface story begins with me visiting a mountain community to judge a science competition and meeting the team of young people participating. As I learn more about them, the excentric reclusive scientist that mysteriously sponsored their Young Rangers group, the weird politics of the local industries, the strange legends about creatures in the woods, and so forth, the plot thickens.
I think this form of media is open-ended, does not rely on the high-testosterone shoot-em-up of video games, and has room for humor and humanity, high drama and romance, and the authors can slip a few morals and lessons in too… And, it can take advantage of all the joys of modern computers for sounds, gorgeous nature photo illustrations, and low production/printing costs.