Alternative media provides familiar entertainment

HOOKED

There’s no denying that technology and the internet have changed the media we consume. A particularly new storytelling medium of note is “HOOKED.” “HOOKED” is a free app that allows users to read stories in the form of text message conversations taking place between characters in the story. Users of the app can read stories from a wide variety of genres or to write their own message-based story. At first glance, this app may seem somewhat gimmicky and obviously heavily marketed for teen interest. However, the “HOOKED” experience is a rather refreshing revision on the old page-by-page storytelling format.

Some of the best stories on “HOOKED” are from their thriller and horror genres. These scenarios benefit immensely from their medium. The stories are designed so cliffhangers are tangible — the next text won’t appear for a few moments to simulate a character’s potential distress and build tension. Many of the reveals to these psychological thrillers are simultaneously riveting and bone-chilling. Such feelings are reminiscent of what many experienced reading the book series ”Goosebumps” in elementary school, with genuine shock and excitement.

One horror story in particular — a murder mystery — really stood out. Two teen friends are alone at their houses during night, and are texting each other. One friend hears footsteps in her house. As the footsteps approach, the texts come in at an urgent and frantic pace, mirroring the feelings of the character. There is a pause, then the grammar used by one of the characters changes dramatically. The intruder is now the one in control of the phone.

On a less dramatic note, the ‘write your own story’ feature of “HOOKED” is an explorative medium that is enjoyable to play around with. The format is easy to use, and the message-based formatting is equally as immersive.

Since “HOOKED” is a free app, many stories require the user to wait around 20 minutes in the middle of a story to read on unless they purchase the premium version. Waiting to continue reading has the side effect of losing the immediate interest of the reader, but this ultimately balances out when considering the immersive storytelling experience as a whole.

“HOOKED” currently holds over 45,000 reviews on the app store. Most of the reviews are positive; the average review is 4.5 stars. Although “HOOKED” is entering new territory in the entertainment space, it’s gaining traction. Eye-catching storytelling, suspenseful timing and a build-your-own-story feature ultimately work together in “HOOKED” and the app itself delivers a unique experience.

REDDIT

Mainstream entertainment media, namely television, has fierce competition from web-based entertainment platforms, including, Reddit, the self-proclaimed “front page of the internet.” Reddit is a forum-based information site that hosts millions of posts, images, and video all submitted by users. While Reddit’s simple, lackluster design may give the impression that it’s nothing out of the ordinary, the site is actually an important hub for both entertainment and news alike.

Reddit stands out from traditional news and entertainment sources in that it is user moderated in accordance to the site’s mission of freedom of expression. Any content, especially news related, is subject to scrutiny in the form of comments and up or down votes. User moderation is actually quite effective at producing reliable information, as calling out inaccuracies in reporting has been a pastime on the internet since forums were first started.

Reddit is organized into various pages, called subreddits, based on topic of interest. The subreddit organizational system gives Reddit a strong sense of community, another aspect that sets Reddit apart from traditional media. For Reddit user, the subreddits to which a person subscribes are a reflection of who they are. These various communities define one’s Reddit experience.

New and alternative media, for entertainment or knowledge, is a growing trend deserving of our attention. Making the effort to try and diversify your media consumption, even just as a trial, can be an eye opening experience.

Posted by Austin Lautenbach

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