Monday, January 31, 2011

Choose Your Own Adventure

     Earlier today, our friends over at Enter the Man Cave posted on an interesting new trend that is appearing on the Interweb: Chose Your Own Adventure-like videos.  You can read all about it here.  But while Geof look more in-depth at the videos, I want to take a moment to remember back to the original Choose Your Own Adventure series (and we will not be calling them CYOA here because we don't do acronyms here, remember?  Otherwise this would be BD&C and I would be calling Enter the Man Cave ETMC like everyone else does).
     For those of you who didn't spend as much time hanging around their school library as I did, Choose Your Own Adventure is a series of 32 books in which throughout the story you are asked to make different decisions which ultimately lead to somewhere between usually a dozen and two dozen different endings.  So for example, as you read along in the story, you might come to a page where it says at the bottom "To go up the stairs go to page 32" and "To follow the cat down the hall go to page 8" and then when you go to page 32 something happens that lets you make more choices but when you go to page 8 you fall through the stairs and die.  And so on and so forth.
      As I remember, when I was a kid, these things were freaking awesome.  They were totally fun, and a little bit addictive.  I read every one that I could get my hands on, and even though I can't remember now, I would have to say that if we go back and examine the cards in the front of the books (try explaining that one to your 12-year-old nephew - punch cards in library books) we would see that I read most of them at one point or another.  I remember reading the one called "Escape" and choosing an ending where my SUV broke a tie rod in the desert and I died of thirst.  That made me mad.  I also remember reading one about a house that was either haunted or evil or something.
     One thing that I always did with the Choose Your Own Adventure books that I read was that after I read a couple of different paths I would always go and read all the endings, first of all to see all the different things that could happen to me, and second of all because then I could pick an ending and try to get to it.  That was fun too.  I would also do the thing that would spoil any good Choose Your Own Adventure, and which I would imagine always drives the author crazy: I would flip to the next page on one of the choices and see what would happen before I made my choice.  I know, that totally goes against the spirit of the whole thing, and I am not proud, but God-damn it I would do it.
     Looking back with a totally lame adult perspective, I think that one of the coolest things about the Choose Your Own Adventure series is that it is really a bunch of storys and books rolled into one, because each choice you make is like making a whole new book.  So it is a good value.  Looking back with the perspective of an elementary school student who wore a lot of sweatsuits, I would say that they were cool because there was nothing else like them out there.  Now, there are several series associated with the Choose Your Own Adventure books, and they are a lot more popular than I ever realized because when I was a kid in school nobody else seemed to be reading them.  But everyone seems to remember them.  And now, there is this similar thing on YouTube.  That is good, because now maybe today's kids can have as much fun as I did.  God knows they aren't going to do it reading.


BradPerala said...

I never read an "offical" choose your own adventure, i guess, but there was a series of Goosebumps books that were in the style of choose your own adventure, and I did all the exact same things you described. Thanks for the memories! Loved those books.

BradPerala said...

by the way, I read your posts everyday, and I'm not just commenting because you commented on mine...though that's what it looks like. haha okay carry on.

Big Dave said...

Thanks for the comments, Brad. We got some nice comments from the Choose Your Own Adventure people as well.

Geof said...

Thanks for the mention, BD&C, and nice write up. I still hold those CYOA books close to my heart. Sorry I missed this earlier.