Hypertext and Destiny: This Twine Could be Your Life


Screen shot from Closky's Do you want love or lust?

Your lover wants to move in, and you have a choice: you can say, "ok, I'll try it for a weekend and then we'll see" or you can "threaten to break up right now."

Then, your boss gives you a compliment. You can either: "say ironically, 'soon you won't be able to afford me,'" or "mentally calculate how much more you will ask him for."

You choose, you choose again, then you choose again. Each time, you are presented with another choice, an either/or. It's impossible to predict the outcomes that either decision might yield, but you choose carefully, expecting that each choice will shape your future path.

This is the sprawling question set of Claude Closky's 1997 Do you want love or lust?, an early web-based hypertext work that draws the user/viewer/player into what seems like a CYOA (choose your own adventure narrative). By making a choice—clicking love or lust—you enter a fictional, and emotional, space where you are the protagonist of this story.


RECOMMENDED READING: Indiana Jones Fights the Communist Police: Text Adventures as a Transitional Media Form in the 1980s Czechoslovakia


Jaroslav Svelch's paper for MiT7 (Media in Transition 7) "Indiana Jones Fights the Communist Police: Text Adventures as a Transitional Media Form in the 1980s Czechoslovakia" (pdf) (via Nick Monfort) gives an interesting look at how gaming in Czechoslovakia started with a number of unlicensed fan fiction-like text adventures like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom ("the original film was only released in Czechoslovakia in 1990 – it is likely that [developer František Fuka] saw it on a pirated VHS. For many players, this game was their first contact with this media franchise.") Later, a text game The Adventures of Indiana Jones in Wenceslas Square in Prague on January 16, 1989 takes a more blatent fan fiction style ("The game takes place during the Jan Palach Week in January 1989 that saw violence by the Public Security (Veřejná bezpečnost, the police force in the Communist Czechoslovakia) and the People’s Militia against a peaceful gathering commemorating the 30th anniversary of the death of Jan Palach. Indy is caught on Wenceslas Square, where the clash took place, and has to find his way back into the United States. This involves brutal disposal of the members of law enforcement")

[In] 1989, only 1.8% Czech households owned a computer... Video game console market was virtually non-existent. As for software, first mentions of original copies of computer games being sold in the country surfaced in early 1989, mere months before the Velvet Revolution... Despite these limitations, there was a lively community of home computer users, many of whom played computer games, including text adventures. Informal systems of distribution were in place, forming a shadow economy as well as a space for free sharing of software...

Although there was a vibrant text adventure market in the U.S. and the U.K., English-language ...