Choose Your Own Adventure

As a boy, a very reluctant reader, it was the ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ game-books that finally got me interested in reading.

Game books from the 1980's…my childhood reading list.

Game books from the 1980’s…my childhood reading list.

If you’re not familiar with them, they were an 80’s phenomenon; paperback books written in the 2nd person where “you” were the protagonist of the story.  In many ways, they were the precursor to today’s open-world video games, and were very much role playing simulations for (extreme & fantastical) life.

It struck me years later, when doing the case study method at Harvard Business School – where a group of 80 students would dissect a situation and work through what path to take – that role playing is an integral part of learning, growing, and practicsing.

I was so obsessed with this form of storytelling that I acquired the entertainment rights to ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ and made an interactive DVD movie based on one of my favourite childhood books from the series: The Abominable Snowman.

Before the iPad, an interactive movie on DVD

Before the iPad, an interactive movie on DVD

In writing linear fiction, the question I want my readers to ask themselves is, “what would I do?”  Off the page, the reader can imagine the consequences to their choices, but must ultimately live with the author’s version of ‘the truth.’

While the interactive game-book fad has mostly come and gone (despite a few attempts at resurrecting it within adult books), there’s still something compelling to me about giving readers choice…..especially if the choice leads to real consequences.

Since MetaWars is a story about choice, it made perfect sense when a young start-up company called Freed Fiction approached me to do an interactive prequel to the series.

The reader chooses with the main character.

The reader chooses with the main character.

It’s a fun experiment, a new creative sandbox to play in, and one that both newcomers to the series and fans alike are enjoying.

metawars

MetaWars: Blood Nexus is out now on iOS (via the iBookstore) and will be coming soon to Android and Kindle.

I’ll be speaking today on the intersection of fiction and interactivity at the London Book Fair.  If you’re attending the fair, please come along and share your experiences…we’ll try to make the seminar interactive!

(Oh, and if you remember the ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books fondly, good news, they’ve been revived and are very much in print via www.cyoa.com)

 

 

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