Hey, I built a Choose Your Own Adventure Twitter game!
…And it’s alive.
Tweet “start” @othrnrml to play, and copy/paste your chosen answer – minus the a) or b) part – to continue the game. If you win, you get a free copy of Ned Vizzini‘s latest book, The Other Normals, “about a kid in summer camp who falls into a fantasy world. But it’s also about race relations and drugs and self-actualization and monsters and dating and being a late bloomer.” And so is the game:
@ned_vizzini You’re 15 & don’t have pubic hair yet. Summer plans? a) Go to camp b) Stay home and play Creatures and Caverns
— The Other Normals (@OthrNrml) September 13, 2012
I’ve long been a Choose Your Own Adventure fan, a love that started with all those awesome Edward Packard stories I found dusty and hidden in my elementary school library, and later – of course – with the CYOA Goosebumps series (especially THIS ONE).
I think my young mind’s reaction to finding out CYOA existed went something like “YOU CAN PLAY GAMES… WITH BOOKS??!!! WHY DIDN’T YOU PEOPLE TELL ME??!!!” CYOA books are the video games of the written world. The discovery blew my mind. And also made me use up all my bookmarks – yes, I cheated and tagged pages to go back to if I didn’t like the ultimate end of a given story arch. I wonder how easily you can track back and forth in the new eBook versions of CYOAs.
(Speaking of digital, there are of course the classic “text adventure” games that we’re all familiar with and possibly loaded onto our TI-83s because that one kid built a version of it over a weekend. But that’s another blog post.)
I love this game format, and if you were ever a nerdy kid, you did too once. Maybe forever.
So why a Twitter bot? And why now? I spend a lot of time in social media land both for fun and for clients (running brand Twitter accounts, drafting and managing Facebook fan page and ad strategies, building robust LinkedIn campaigns, etc), and I’m paid to think about how businesses can use various platforms to do something more – more exciting, more interactive, more sustainable than just a random tweet here and there.
I’d seen a few Twitter bots and my older mind’s reaction went something like “YOU CAN DO THAT? WHOA.” I knew a CYOA could work easily. I told a number of my coworkers about the idea, got worked up about it, and then put it in that corner of our minds called the “I’ll do it eventually” shelf. Right next to the “hang gliding lessons” and “learn to pun in Latin”.
I met Ned a few months later through this nice boy, and over some coffee and cake with his wife and their freakin’ adorable baby boy, we chatted about his upcoming book and how he was thinking about promoting it on social media. A book about a kid obsessed with role playing games, you say? And a fantasy world?
I built the original bot in PHP, and it was buggy. Very buggy. So this past weekend, it got built again in Python/Django, and hey – no bugs. So far.
It’s a very simple bot right now. It can be made more advanced – multiple story lines, smarter reading of your responses, adding more commands, etc – but for now we’re seeing how people use it and what NEEDS to be changed. Also, bug watch. So, very simple.