THE PRESENT DAY
Interactive fiction has a rich history on both computers and the printed page. Nick Monfort’s Twisty Little Passages is a wonderful resource for anyone who wants to read about the history of text adventures, while Leila Johnston made game books decidedly trendy again when she published Enemy of Chaos a year or two ago. It’s smart and/or funny, depending on the choices you make, and both volumes will suggest hidden depths to pretty ladies and gentlemen if you have them on your shelf. (If you don’t get this reference, you may want to play through this article again.)
But what about Edward Packard? What’s he been up to?
Glad you asked.
“After the original Choose Your Own Adventure books went out of print in the U.S. in the late 1990’s, the publisher let the trademark lapse,” he tells you. “Ray Montgomery, the fellow whose small press published my first book, took advantage of the opportunity and registered the trademark in the name of his company, so I was obliged to invent a new trademark. I thought that U-Ventures would be a good one. Return to the Cave of Time and Through the Black hole are available as U-Ventures apps at iTunes, and a third app, Forbidden Castle, should be ready this fall along with revised and expanded U-Ventures print versions of my original Choose Your Own Adventure books.
“Developing the apps is tremendous fun,” he continues, “because we can introduce features that would be impossible in a printed book. For instance, the computer can remember where you’ve been and what you’ve done, so two people reaching the same place in a story might have different experiences and choices depending on their past experience.”
Packard’s just turned 80, but has made some pretty smart choices of his own along the way – possibly by cheating and marking previous pages – and he’s not about to slow down just yet. “Some time ago I made a decision to eat right and stay in shape, and it paid off,” he tells you. “I feel totally healthy and energized. Of course I’ve been lucky too – so far I haven’t had any bad breaks. So I’m still writing and cooking up publishing projects. I just self-published a non-fiction book titled All It Takes – the Three Keys to Making Wise Decisions and not Making Stupid Ones, which originated when I looked back over my life and thought about why some of my decisions were great ones but others were really stupid. I’ll be producing an app for that in addition to the apps for my U-Ventures books. I’m having fun producing a stunningly illustrated picture book. Anyone who is interested can learn more at my website, edwardpackard.com.”