Wednesday, December 26, 2012

We interrupt this blog...

When I'm not writing about video game ads here, I have another blog wherein I present gamebooks, video games' neglected and spurned half-siblings, in the HTML which they always cried out for -- allowing a certain automatic internal linking which facilitates their "play". During a certain critical window, circa 1983-1986, their kinship to video games was more apparent, and indeed they were advertised in a similar way -- with ads in comic books, two variant paths to the heart of a reluctant reader.
Because that blog has just celebrated a milestone of its own, quick on the heels of our milestone here, I just shared there an artefact of that brief moment over overlap in the Venn diagram of these two different families of gaming, and so, like a comic book crossover between rival countries, I will also now post a gamebook ad found in comic books here.
Are you ready for fantastic adventures?
The choice is yours!

CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE

Here, at last, are books that go beyond reading to real challenge and adventure. Books in which you choose the endings, you make the decisions, you shape the direction the stories turn, you become the hero. Get into the action now! Available wherever books are sold. Join the CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE FAN CLUB! Write for details

I don't know that "challenge" is the correct way to describe the puzzle of working your way through a CYOA book. They have happy endings, and unhappy endings, and many, apparently value-neutral choices. To avoid being overly didactic and goody-two-shoes (kids hate that) rather than reinforcing good behavior with good endings, every choice is like taking a spin on the wheel of fortune where BANKRUPT is replaced by SUDDEN AND ARBITRARY DEATH. Story endings fly fast and furious, and are rarely predictable from what came before. Typically the stories don't follow a consistent world model, so a character who can help the character in one plot fork may still be present, but as an antagonist, in another one... so on subsequent replays, prior knowledge of the game won't necessarily help players to make good choices! It's a challenge in the same way that playing pachinko is a challenge. So it is with choosing the endings, like a blindfolded man throwing darts, and shaping the direction the stories turn... like a rat running a fresh maze.

One thing these books did revel in was genre. The artwork in this ad comes from the cover art of a book entitled War With the Evil Power Master. Is he a Master of Evil Powers or a Power Master who is Evil? Where's an Oxford comma when I need one?