I chose the novel Journey Under The Sea, which is about a sea adventurer attempting to find the lost city of Atlantis, and the trials, tribulations, and struggles encountered thus. I chose the book simply because I will always choose anything that has something to do with the ocean, given a choice. It is the most compelling place on the planet for me, and the only place that I feel actually at home or comfortable in any sense of the word.
I played through the CYOA in two vastly different manners, curious to see how it changed the narrative. My first play through, I chose the simplest and safest route through the book, to see how the writers would deal with a player who didn’t seem to be very engaged. The story ended very quickly, with me returning to the surface without discovering anything of note, and I was left fairly unsatisfied. However, when playing through it a second time, I chose to be much more aggressive and risky. The story quickly grew to make little logical sense, but was nonetheless enjoyable enough to follow. However, I didn’t feel like my choices led to consequences in the same way that they do in some other CYOA-like experiences I have had, digital or physical. Each passage felt fairly arbitrary, like it could have been pasted onto any choice and made sense with minimal changes. At the end of my second playthrough, I tried to assimilate into a mind reading culture and failed, returning to a surface world entirely changed from what I had left it. Though interesting, this made absolutely no sense to me and took me out of the world that the book had created.
Returning to paper doesn’t actually seem that different to me from any other game form, besides one key factor. Paper, and physical books, do not allow the game developer to hide behind computers and code. In digital games, even ones as simple as Twine, most of the choices and consequences are hidden from view in a black box, and the player does not get to see them or freely peruse the world of the game as the developer could see it. However, in a book, it is inherent in the form that the player can flip back and forth to any choice and any page, seeing endings and choices flip past as they make decisions. This changes the way that the player interacts with the world of the game, allowing them to be much more experimental and willing to go back and forth between a few different choices. It also makes multiple playthroughs simple, as one can just jump back into the story from any given point by opening up the book.