Infographic of the Day: Choose Your Own Adventure Books, Visualized

choose your own adventure

Choose Your Own Adventure books were the rage in the 1980s, promising low-budget interactive entertainment. They also spurred the creation of several early videogames. You’d start reading, and every so often, come to a choice, which you’d pursue by flipping to the appropriate page.

Christian Swinehart grew up with CYOA books like The Mystery of Chimney Rock, and now he’s revisited them, in CYOA, a massive labor of love, graphing the possible outcomes of 13 different books, dated from 1979-2003.


The visualizations are organized into two basic types. The obvious ones are decision trees. The others are distribution graphs, which comprise a series of bars, each one representing a page. Arcs show which pages leap to which, according to the plot.

cave of time

For both types of graphs, Swinehart took the extra step of cataloguing each ending for all 13 books, on a scale ranging from “great” to “catastrophic”–so the colors you see above represent plot endings, based on how they panned out for your character.


One interesting thing that Infosthetics points out is that as the genre’s novelty started to wane in the 1980s, the choices and possible endings started declining as well–the branching becomes less and less complicated.

But it doesn’t stop there! In addition to graphs for each book, Swinehart has also put one online for you to read. And what might be coolest, he’s also created hypnotic animations showing the many paths you’d traverse during reading.

[Via Infosthetics]