A Brief History of Choose Your Own Adventure Books!

Between 1978 and 1982, entertainment went interactive, and, for myself and many others, Choose Your Own Adventure books were the catalyst. Unlike Dungeons & Dragons, which required friends; or computer games, which required your parents to spend a lot of money; or arcade games, which required your sister to drive you to the mall, Choose Your Own Adventure books cost $1.75, and you could read them on your own.

The idea for interactive fiction was laid out by Jorge Luis Borges in 1941 in his short story "The Garden of Forking Paths": A Chinese spy for Germany living in Great Britain discusses his ancestor's ambition to write a vastly complex novel that is also a labyrinth wherein every branching path is determined by the reader's choices. A more prosaic early attempt at interactive texts were psychologist B.F. Skinner's "programmed learning" books that culminated with Doubleday's interactive TutorText series, which debuted in 1958 with the thrilling The Arithmetic of Computers. Basically an extended multiple-choice quiz, a correct answer sent you forward in the text while an incorrect answer sent you to a page explaining just how wrong you were. But all of these efforts were eclipsed by the bedtime story Edward Packard told his two daughters in 1969.

Boy, I kinda wish breadpig published a Choose Your Own Adventure book...