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Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The black and the green

Joe Dunthorne, the author of the sharply comic novel Submarine on which Richard Ayoade's recent movie was based, has recently been experimenting with interactivity in his writing in a way that may be of interest to gamebook readers. Talking in the Financial Times, Dunthorne says:
"There are so many possibilities for interactive fiction, which is where I see the e-readers really coming in to their own. I’ve been writing literary Choose Your Own Adventure stories, and these seem perfect for digital.”
You can try it for yourself on his website: "Taking the lid off the olives, you wonder whether to have a black one or a green one. You watch the line of shade shift..." The story is pretty short, but I like that gamebooks don't always have to be about undead pirates.


  1. It's an idea I've been toying with for a while. Not that it hasnt been done even before this Aoyade fella (in fact the very first recorded instance of a book with multiple choices was erm..."straight literature") and definitely it's been done many times in amateur gamebooks that you can find for download on various sites, but I've been interested in the idea myself. I once started one that was mainly humoristic but that consisted in following someone that might or might not have been inspired by me (I'm vain and self-centered) in their daily routine. Of course the choices always led the player to unebeliveably ludicrous situations (though none was fantastical, just a little..unlikely) but it was a fun experiment it's just that at the time my heart wasn't fully into it enough.

  2. You're right, Milk. One such book was Kim Newman's Life's Lottery - which covered an entire life, so most of the paths through the book were pretty short. AFAIK Joe Dunthorne is the first to try an his hand at an "anti-gamebook" in the sense that your choices aren't really affecting the plot in any real sense. Obviously that's not a trick you can't pull very often.

  3. My curiosity was piqued after reading this post, so I went to Dunthorne's website, played the gamebook, and watched the film (which I thought was quite good, especially as Ayoade's directorial debut). Good stuff all around.

  4. Must admit, Hamza, that I still haven't seen the movie, though it got a good write-up in Sight & Sound and is on my Lovefilm list. Another recommendation: Nick Whitfield's movie Skeletons.

  5. I'll check it out.