Choose Your Own Adventure.
To some of you, those four words struck a nostalgic chord deep down in the dusty remains of your childhood. Others will have zero idea what I am talking about.
Choose your own adventure books gave readers the power to choose the outcome of the story. For example: If a character was walking down a dirt road and came to a fork with a menacing sign saying “Deathville-Left, Murderpolis-Right”. The book would then prompt you and say “To turn left go to page X, to turn right go to page Y”. You’d turn the page to that number and kept reading until another choice came up…or you died.
For the first time ever it became possible to game over while reading a book. Make a wrong choice and “splat”. Granted not all the stories were quite that dark, but the Goosebumps books went at this genre with a passion. There was a later series they published with the subtitle “Only one way out”.
Some of these books required readers to keep track of what handy items were found while reading. Being chased by child-eating Rat-people? I sure hope you have that cassette tape with cat hissing recorded onto it, or you’re lunch. (That was an actual example from one book)
There was one series I became hooked on in my youth that required dice. You had to roll them as your character fought monsters. Even if you made the right choices, some bad rolls while going toe to toe with a Hydra and you’re once again, lunch.
Reading had become a game…and it was glorious.
I know these were not the first things I had ever read, but I can’t help but ponder if my voracity for reading was sparked by these. Make anything a game and it becomes a lot more entertaining…not that reading isn’t entertaining…QUICK DISTRACTION!
Now that I have had time to dig myself out of that hole. This post serves as a prologue to my next one. You see, there is a genre of computer games called “Visual Novels” that function exactly like my childhood books. Except they have no pages, but A LOT more reading.
There’s one in particular I have to talk about. It’s unique, odd, possibly offensive to some, and most of all, inspiring.
See you all next time.
(P.S. You’ll find a hint in the tags)