m. c. de marco: To invent new life and new civilizations...

Choose Your Own Whazzit?

In a recent post, I mentioned hyperfiction Discord servers. Sadly for me, they, like Discord itself, are very game-focused. I had a passing thought about making one that was more focused on the sorts of hyperfiction that can occur in paper books made from dead trees, regardless of whether any trees were killed in the process.

As usual, my first thought was how to title it. One nice but taken term for CYOA is “decision fiction”; this one has been taken by a new, as-yet-unlaunched IF platform that so far is just a Twitter feed, and, oddly, an upcoming free online conference.

For one brief shining moment the obvious title seemed to be CYOA. Unfortunately, sometime since the original publication of the acronomynous books (but possibly before my hyperfiction thesaurus), a new, incomprehensible genre has grown up that, while intentionally using the acronym for Choose Your Own Adventure books, has absolutely nothing to do with them.

Since for most people CYOA means the books and their genre, it’s harder to find a definition of the new, non-CYOA CYOA:

When mentioned on 4chan, these are images that describe varied scenarios with a common theme, intended to spark discussion about the choices you would make as you describe why you feel one of the offered choices is better than the others.

It’s like that question “would you rather fight a horse-sized duck, or a flock of duck-sized horses?” except you have a dozen choices and they’re all awesome.

So these things are exactly the opposite of a CYOA: there is no plot and there are no choices; it’s more of a multiple choice test (or in some cases, a shopping trip in which you have a certain budget of choices to spend) than a decision tree.

Even given the complete lack of plot and the desire for simultaneous display of the choices in the new CYOA, the most disturbing part of the entire genre is how these “CYOAs” are manually put together into huge images instead of generated with some useful piece of software. (There is some software out there for the purpose, but it, like the genre itself, is so obscure I can’t find it again now that I’m blogging about it.)