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 Jan 22 '17 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 Jan 23 '17 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 Feb 21 '17 at 6:04
  • This is an interesting, but (I think) ultimately very subjective question. Are you sure this question wouldn't do better on Literature Meta? :) – Shokhet Feb 21 '17 at 6:17
  • 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. – can-ned_food Mar 16 '17 at 21:26

I say they are both.

The books do tell a story but with multiple endings based on the readers choices and the result of dice rolls.

The choices you make tell the story and the battles that you have also are part of the narrative.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy