The National Digest

Is the Future of Entertainment the 40-Years-Old ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ Series?

To kids immersed in video games, the thrill of taking part in the action is a given, whether sky-diving out of a flying bus in Fortnite or building a new world in Minecraft. But the ability to interact with a story was pioneered decades ago, in a pulp paperback that morphed into a best-selling series in the 1980s and is becoming a hit once again.

In many ways the “Choose Your Own Adventure” series was an analog predecessor of the modern video game, says Derek Beaulieu, director of literary arts at Canada’s Banff Centre, who created a college course on the genre.

You can find the latest take on the idea on Amazon’s smart speaker (“Alexa, take me to the Himalayas to find the Abominable Snowman”) and on Netflix’s “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch,” which can run for 40 minutes or more than twice that long depending on your choices. And Twentieth Century Fox is hoping to produce “Choose Your Own Adventure” films, with theatergoers directing the plot via smartphones.

Clever as that may be, the low-tech version has one advantage: You can flip back a few pages and make a different choice if you’re about to be crushed by a T-Rex.


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