Most of us remember at least one experience reading a Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) paperback, finding ourselves lost in an enchanted castle, flipping to page 45 to sneak past the guards or to page 89 to drink a mysterious green potion. Now, Terence Eden has squeezed that same experience into a hack of Twitter’s account pages. You can start the adventure here:
Eden isn’t the first to squeeze a CYOA story into Twitter. Jonah Peretti, founder of Buzzfeed, assigned followers to a “dangerous mission to save the world,” while the Travelocity gnome invited followers on a three-day weekend where they could go anywhere. But Eden may have done it best.
In the past, Twitter’s CYOA storytellers have given readers those fork-in-the-road, page 45 or page 89 options via hyperlinks, which would link other tweets the account had already made. That technically worked, but as Eden explains in a post on the matter, these two links eat up a lot of Twitter’s 140-character limit, leaving just 23 characters to tell a story.
Instead, Eden took a different approach. He turned each step of the adventure into its own Twitter account–yes, that means each Twitter account he used stored just one page of the story. While that sounds absurd, it came with a lot of UX benefits. Each fork could be linked via a short @ handle, rather than a longer link, which bought him valuable characters for dramatic storytelling, like:
Furthermore, by linking to Twitter account pages themselves, Eden could illustrate each makeshift page of his book by placing a different image in the account banner. He didn’t need to waste even more characters by embedding images along the way.
What’s stopping you from creating a Twitter CYOA in the same manner? Like Eden, you could use the app inkle to pen your next adventure pretty easily. But he had to secure 23 separate Twitter accounts to tell his story, and even using all sorts of digital subterfuge, Twitter saw through his attempts to snatch up such a multitude of accounts. Eden had to unearth five years of old accounts he’d created, and then arranged for Twitter to donate another 10 to the cause.
So while you technically can create a Twitter CYOA just like Eden, you’d be best off making it extremely short.