This question concerns "Choose Your Own Adventure" books. These are books that start out as a normal story, but then ask the reader to make a choice. (The book will say something to the effect of "turn to page 8 if yes, page 9 if no"). In this fashion, the story expands like a tree.

It seems to me that there are two different ways to think about choose your own adventure books.

The first is to treat choose your own adventure books as a collection of multiple versions of the same story. Let's take a hypothetical story with one choice: do you (the reader) enter the magical portal that takes you to Narnia? At this choice, two versions of the story are created: one where the reader enters Narnia and one where the reader doesn't. If a story has a lot of choices, then a lot of different versions of the story are created. While the different versions of the story can be compared, the act of the reader choosing isn't considered in the analysis of the stories' meaning. In this sense, choose your own adventure games are essentially the same as traditional literature.

The second way of looking at "Choose Your Own Adventure" books is by analyzing them as games. This means looking at questions like "how to readers make choices", or "how does the act of making a choice affect the meaning of the story."

My question is: how do scholars and theorists of literature think about "choose your own adventure" books? Where do they fall on the literature game spectrum that I just outlined? If there is a debate among scholars, I would accept an answer that outlines the different perspectives in this debate.

  • 1
    While this question is about choose your own adventure books, it has obvious implications for interactive fiction and video games in general.
    – user111
    Commented Jan 22, 2017 at 5:24
  • I have a childrens bookwhich about half way through splits. The characters wash up on an island and the rest of the pages are split in half. The top half has a happy ending and the bottom is sad. I would definitely call it a book, and not a game but then it isn't quite what @Benjamin is implying.
    – Mirte
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 10:19
  • If a hypertext novel can be considered literature, why wouldn't a choose-your-own-adventure book be treated the same way? I don't know enough about the genre, and nothing about its critical treatment, but I can't think of any reason such a book would not be considered literature.
    – verbose
    Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 6:04
  • Will you accept an answer which is based on conceptual definitions of my own devising? Or need it be some previously published opinion? The short of it is: the scopes of literature and fenditure (I coined that word) overlap. Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 21:26
  • 1
    @can-ned_food I'm looking for an answer that looks at what academics have written about this.
    – user111
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 21:26


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