A Trend Toward “Choose Your Own Adventure”

January 18, 2013
Maggie Ryan Sandford's story outline from the Paper Darts + MIA event.

Maggie Ryan Sandford’s story outline from the Paper Darts + MIA event.

Editor’s Note: Jamie Millard is the co-founder and volunteer executive director of Paper Darts.

Gamification is more than a growing trend in new media. It’s a cultural shift in how consumers expect to interact with content. And within gamification, there is booming demand for the customization of storylines.

For many, the video game of the year for 2012 was “The Walking Dead,” which allowed players to tailor a story and make choices that affected characters based in the same world of the hugely popular AMC show. Another example is the new show on the Syfy network, “Defiance,” will be placed in the same world of an online multi-player game, with the player’s actions influencing the plot of the show.

It makes sense that video games would be able to easily integrate the appeal of customized storylines, but the more interesting question is how do other forms of entertainment leverage this highly interactive and participatory model of engagement?

Last night’s “Choose Your Own Adventure” extravaganza at the Paper Darts + Minneapolis Institute of Arts Third Thursday event is an example of one answer to that question.

Paper Darts, a Twin Cities literary arts magazine, invited four authors (Ed Bok Lee, John Jodzio, Maggie Ryan Sandford, and Katie Heaney) to write original choose-your-own-adventure stories incorporating various art exhibits throughout the entire museum. The MIA estimates about 2,000 locals showed up to experience the once-in-a-lifetime event (literally, it is impossible to recreate the event as was experienced last night).

Choose Your Own Adventure

Each CYOA story came with customized maps and cards to guide participants through the museum.

The result was a suspense filled adventure through centuries of different art forms and styles, with participants in the driver seat customizing the content of their stories and experiencing outcomes tailored to their choices.

As this trend towards customized gaming continues to grow and leak into mainstream entertainment, it will be interesting to see who keeps up and who falls behind. Just this past week, the TV show “Hawaii Five-O” allowed viewers to call in and vote on the ending they wanted to see, just like the readers at the Paper Darts + MIA Third Thursday, the TV show fans were able to shape their own story and receive an ending tailored to their choices.

Enjoy these photos from the Paper Darts + MIA Choose Your Own Adventure event!

The Choose Your Own Adventure stories pulled inspiration from and interacted with more than 60 art objects throughout the museum.

The Choose Your Own Adventure stories pulled inspiration from and incorporated more than 60 art objects throughout the museum.

The choose your own adventure theme also carried over into an "exquisite corpse" type of event based on a drawing contributed by the artist Jennifer Davis.

The choose-your-own-adventure theme carried over into an “exquisite corpse” activity based on a drawing contributed by the artist Jennifer Davis.

thirdthursday

Paper Darts, the MIA and more than 2,000 art + lit lovers prove that choosing your own adventure stories don’t just belong in video games or books from your childhood.