A beautiful exploration of Choose Your Own Adventure story paths

While we’re on the subject: Graphic designer Christian Swinehart has created a remarkable website about Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) books, or “game books.” His graphical representations of the branching storylines are beautiful in their own right, and teach lessons about how “branched” a storyline can be. Mutliple endings, especially multiple positive endings, show a story that doesn’t have one “right” way to do it. 

The early CYOA books were set up to discourage this kind of play-via-obsessive-optimization. It was rare for there to be a single ending that was unequivocally better than all the others. In addition, the set of best endings was distributed fairly evenly throughout the branches of the decision tree, so early choices don’t necessarily take you out of the running for a good ending. Stories that built toward a single, ideal ending were more the province of non-CYOA gamebooks, particularly the Time Machine series and the Zork books.

Don’t miss the story path animations (hit “play” in the upper left-hand corner) or the CYOA-hyperlink hybrid.