TO BEGIN AT THE END
You died a thousand times a week, back in those days.
Interesting deaths, too. You were eaten by alligators, stabbed by spooky monks, or flung from the battlements by an angry knight clad in crimson. When there were monsters, the monsters got you. When there were landslides, you were buried alive. When the theme was faintly historical, it was the faintly historical who did you in: the Wright Brothers might club you with a wrench, or perhaps Eli Whitney, inventor of the cotton gin, would submerge you in a tank filled with sharks and poisonous cuttlefish.
Is it fair to classify the Choose Your Own Adventure books as games? Their creator thinks they almost certainly weren’t (I asked him), but I’m not so sure. There’s all that death and mayhem you can cause, for one thing – they present worlds of limited agency, which definitely feels very gameish. Beyond that, with each book, the unspoken objective should seem familiar to a video game audience, as well. Last as long as you can. Get the best ending. Beat M. Bison on a single 50 pence piece.
Besides, if I, as a reader, think they were games, maybe there’s something in that. After all, the reader was always the single most important person in any adventure book.
All that’s to come, however. As for right now, what do you want to do?