You think you know the story of Little Red Riding Hood? Well Donna Leishman will make you think again. In her 2001 interactive fiction, entitled RedRidinghood, Leishman revamps the beloved children’s tale with an expresso shot of teen angst, giving Red a much needed feminist “bite”. Leishman takes a gusty approach to her interactive fiction by telling Red’s story with a limited amount of text within the work itself. However there is still a very distinctive narrative to the piece. When there is text it is to prompt the reader into make decisions in how the story will progress from there on.
The story is presented in a format that is very similar to a “Choose-your-own- adventure”. The begging scenes of the story tend to stick more closely with the traditional fairy tale than the rest of the story. The more interactive parts of the story begin when Red begins her journey through the woods. Here is where we first meet the wolf. Leishman has decided to depict the wolf in her version of the story as a boy about the same age as Red with furry arms and claws. Red and the wolf travel together until Red falls asleep due to a field of flowers. Here is where Leishman takes much of her artistic liberties. The next screen prompted for the reader is of Red asleep in the field of flowers. The reader must choice between waking Red or journeying to her dream world. Either choices results in an interesting chain of events.
Choosing to journey into Red’s dreams introduces the reader to several distinctive scenarios, which playing various times will expose you to different ones. In one of the dream worlds the reader arrives with Red outside of what looks to be some kind of meat packing plant with other clickable characters. From this the reader is taken into the next scene were the reader views more people standing beside various animals that I guessed as being dead. These characters and animals are clickable as well and cause a variety of affects within the screen. However if you click on the boy playing the wolf in this story you are sent to the next scene. This scene allows the reader to watch the wolf-boy grow from a fetus if you stay on the page long enough.
The final dream sequence world is that of Red simply walking down a road. Upon this road, Red comes upon and a bandaged angel. This angel does nothing to help Red and the scene ends by Red waking up. Wither you decide to go into the dream worlds or wake Red up immediately , she will always awake from the field of flowers and continue to journey to her grandmother’s house to confront the wolf. It is this part of the story that takes on a major girl power oriented tone. Though Red was not able to save her grandmother, she is able to save herself. Red is given no outside help in this version as foreshadowed by the angel in her dreams. Angered by the wolf, Red attacks and eats him, instead of the classical version where she is eaten. The image of the wolf-boy as a fetus comes back into to play for when you scroll over Red’s stomach you can see an embryo inside of her.
Along with Leishman’s quirky feminist take on Red Riding Hood, she also embeds little Easter eggs to help provide background to the relationship of Red and wolf-boy. It took me two plays to find Red’s diary along the walk to the field of flowers. This diary provides the melodrama of teen angst and teen love. The reader learns that the wolf-boy was once was or still is a crush of Red’s. For some of the various pages of the journal this crush did not go well causing a violate mix of feelings in emotions that come clear in the final scenes. Red becomes obsessive in some of her entries and others she is very angry. A red motif, evil and Satan are reoccurring throughout the piece. The tab at the begging of the piece also changes to “they are evil”. Warning the reader perhaps not everything is as innocent as it seems.