You’re sitting at your desk at work. It’s another typical Monday: the kids overslept, you spilled your coffee and had to rush home for a change of clothes, and your e-mail inbox is going to take an hour to slog through. Oh, and you’ve got another mind-numbing meeting to attend. But right now you’re taking a little break to read the best tech-slash-parenting blog in the world. It’s not much, but it keeps you sane, right? Then you hear your boss approaching.
Do you think your boss will walk on by without seeing your computer screen?
Keep reading the blog, and turn to page 42.
Or do you worry that your boss will chew you out for wasting company time?
Hit the boss key, and turn to page 15.
Designer/programmer Christian Swineheart took his childhood obsession with Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books and turned it into a beautiful analysis of the structure at the heart of the books. He used a variety of mapping methods, from the game tree (seen above) which turns the book into a literal map, to a chart (seen below) keeping all the pages in order, with graceful swoops showing the paths from one page to another. The article is fascinating stuff, tracking the way that earlier books gave you a lot more choices (and a lot more endings), but then later books tended towards fewer branches and sometimes a single “winning” ending.
Be sure to check out the Animation, Gallery, and Play links (at the top of the site). The Animation section brings the page charts to life as it shows all the possible paths jumping from page to page. The Play section is based on the Zork CYOA book, which has been turned into a hypertext adventure. As you click on pages, the small diagram at top traces your path through the story.
So, now you are again faced with a choice:
Do you continue with your boring Monday?
Go write 140 characters about where you’re eating lunch, and turn to page 98.
Do you want to see a gorgeous and thoughtful analysis of Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books?
Visit Samizdat.cc/CYOA and turn to page 100.
(Images: Samizdat.cc, used with permission.)