Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Print Your Own Adventure with Choosatron

The Choosatron is a very neat little interactive story box. It's inspired by Choose Your Own Adventure style books and the interactive fiction genre.

But rather than using paper or e-Books or even a computer screen as its medium it takes a much more hands-on approach to story consumption.

The custom story gets printed on inkless thermal paper as each decision is made.

The Choosatron itself feels like something from a story to me. I can imagine it being discovered in an attic when a group of cousins meet up at their grandparents for a summer vacation. Will they 1) Ignore it and go back to their video games 2) Take it to show their grandparents or 3) Turn it on and see what happens?

I admit that my first reaction to this project was that it's cool but completely unnecessary. Why not just write an app and save the paper? But it has drawn me in ...

I loved Choose Your Own Adventure books as a child and I've recently bought one for my six year old son to try - I think he'll enjoy them too. I'm also an avid interactive fiction gamer (well as avid as you can be when there just aren't enough games being produced in the genre.) I love the experience of participating in the story, and plan to introduce my kids to interactive fiction.

Authors are lined up to write stories for the Choosatron and the project is aimed at kids so there should be a good amount of kid-friendly content at launch. The sample stories are helpfully given a movie-style age rating so you can tell who they are suitable for.

But one of the really cool things is that you will be able to write your own adventure too. Adults can write stories for their own kids and kids can create their own interactive adventures. Choosatron works with the Twine software which allows you to create a story map with decision points. Being able to develop your own story which gets printed out as your friends go through is very cool. And imagine your child's face as a custom story appears in front of them.

There's lots of scope here for combining creativity and logical thinking to develop the skills that kids need for the future. The Choosatron would make an excellent resource for a school or club as well as being an amazing project to have at home.
"Even a kid will be able to assemble it in less than 10 minutes."
But that's not all! The Choosatron actually comes as a kit that can be assembled so kids will get a chance to see inside and get some insight into how the magic works. (I'm not sure about the "Even a kid" line. My 6 year old is rapidly overtaking me in his ability to assemble things.)

I can see some kids just getting totally inspired by this device and spending hours crafting adventures for their long-suffering younger siblings to try out.

The inventor of the Choosatron is Jerry Belich who has had an interesting career mixing technology and creativity (you can find out about what he's done on the Choosatron Kickstarter page.) The Choosatron is just the thing to develop the skills of the next generation of creative inventors.

Pledge: Choosatron Interactive Fiction Arcade Machine on Kickstarter

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