Imagine reading an incredibly engrossing book. Depending on how fast you are, this could be days, weeks, months (No judgement here. As long as you’re reading you’re ok in my book). No matter the time limit, you find yourself at the end, ready to see how things are going to end up.
You get to the last page…….and……you’re not satisfied.
It wasn’t necessarily a bad ending. But it didn’t leave a great taste in your mouth either. Which in my opinion could be even worse. Lukewarm reads are the bane of my existence. I’d rather have a strong reaction in either direction than not feel any particular way about it at all. If that’s the case, then why finish the book?
Imagine if you had the choice of making the characters presented in the book do things differently? As a child, I stumbled upon books that could do just that. They were a genre all their own called ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’.
One of my favorites growing up was based on The Legend of Zelda. More specifically, The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons. If you didn’t know by my ‘About’ page, I LOVE the Zelda franchise. This has been a thing since I was around seven or eight and played Ocarina of Time for the first time. The book placed you in the literal shoes of Link as he battled through the land of Holodrum and brought back peace. It really felt like I was playing the game but in book form!
I haven’t touched that series in easily over ten years so I’m sure they would seem much more simple now, but the concept still remains: putting the choice of the narrative in the hands of the player is INCREDIBLY enticing if done right. Even more so, with enough branching paths, you make the reader feel like something new is able to be accomplished if they fall short of completing what needs to be done.
The Goosebumps series was another HUGE influence on my childhood when it came to reading; and they had choose your own adventure books also (affectionately called ‘Choose Your Own Scare!’).
The genre isn’t nearly as big as it used to be when it comes to books (mainly still focusing on children). But I would like to think that there are readers out there who wouldn’t mind trying this genre again, even as adults. Think of the complex stories that could be told through an epic novel (imagine something with the length of Gone With the Wind and the complexity of a Dune novel combined together)! From the inside looking out, that would be a fearsome undertaking. After all, you’d need to have countless outcomes, branching possibilities, and still a compelling story that would make me want to come back each time, trying to figure out the ‘real’ ending. But with enough planning it can be done.
In fact, it has been done…..since the 1980’s with text based adventure games on the computer. But that is a completely different conversation. One that I hope to revisit in the next few months as I hopefully try to figure out a little fun project to do on the side involving this. More to come later.
Until next time.
* Credit for the top picture goes to the following website