When it came to elementary school literary entertainment, Choose Your Own Adventure books were, for a time, second to none. The books, with their fantastical illustrations and wacky titles like “Vampire Express” and “You are a Shark” offered the promise of a brief adventure that, in reality, usually ended with the reader’s character meeting an unpleasant end.
Now, two veterans of the Choose Your Own Adventure series want to bring that same feeling to the present with a series of iPad apps called Choose ‘Toons. To make that a reality, they’re turning to Kickstarter to fund the first, entitled “Your Very Own Robot.”
R.A. Montgomery, the founder of Choose Your Own Adventure, and Shannon Gilligan, who was first brought on to manage the production of an Atari CYOA port 30 years ago, joined forces in 2003 to create Chooseco, a company that aims to resurrect the CYOA format in the 21st century.
But they’re not following the usual script for Kickstarter projects trying to tap into nostalgia to revitalize an old brand. “Robot” is clearly targeted at kids, not the adults who remember CYOA books from their youth. That’s a risky move, especially considering that the pair is hoping to raise $130,000 from Kickstarter.
While six figures sounds like a tall order, CYOA-esque books have been big business on Kickstarter in the past, with Ryan North’s “chooseable-path adventure” version of Hamlet raking in more than $580,000 last year.
$6 gets you a copy of the app when it’s finished, with higher funding tiers including the opportunity to have your likeness used for various characters in the final product.
It’s sadly unclear whether or not the team at Chooseco will try to replicate the feeling of holding your place at the last decision point, in case you meet your untimely demise.
[This story was updated since publication to include Ryan North's project.]
Blair Hanley Frank is a technology journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has also worked for Macworld, PCWorld and TechHive. He can be found on Twitter @belril.