by Peter Bess
I recently, like so many other people, found myself working from home. My day job is as a librarian at Butler Area Public Library, and I love that each day I get to help others. Some people visit the library to find their next book to read, but that is just one population of library users. We have those who use our computers and internet for research, job applications, or just to stay in touch with their friends and families. There are those who need help learning how to use a new piece of technology; i.e. their new smartphone, computer, etc. Each day my job is to find out what these individuals need and help them acquire it. I love my job.
So when I began working from home my job became solely focused on what I could provide my community over the internet. The staff from the library began to brainstorm ideas. We thought about our community and what we knew they needed, and we thought about our individual set of skills and knowledge. The product of this was many educational, engaging, and fun videos, social media posts, and activities. One of my contributions during this time was a Dungeons & Dragons inspired “Choose Your Own Adventure” with a little dice rolling mixed in.
The community I live in has a pretty decent sized gaming community, and over the last five or so years I have begun to get more and more involved. My library holds regularly scheduled game days (the last of which we held virtually through Discord.) There are two gaming conventions in my town every year, and a couple of others very nearby; so I knew this would be something that would engage the people who visit the library and be a fun project since I love games.
I utilized Google Forms in order to create my adventure. Google Forms gives you a variety of ways to create quizzes, surveys, and questionnaires. I just needed a way to make a multiple choice questions and answer tree, and this was an easy answer. Also, since rolling a 20-sided die was going to be a mechanic of the game, I was able to suggest people use the Google search, “Roll a D20,” since Google has a die roller built right into it’s search feature.
In order to create a “Choose Your Own Adventure” with Google Forms you first need a Google account. Google Forms is just one of many applications you gain access to with your Google account. Once you are in your account and you have access to Google Forms you can start writing your adventure.
My only real disappointment with using this platform is the fact that as your story lengthens you will see a visible slow down in the response time of the Google Form. This is due to the fact that it is constantly saving your entire adventure, and the more you write, the more Google has to save. This inevitably led me to need to break my adventure into two different forms which I then had to connect with the link to the second part at the end of the first part.
A fun additional benefit of using this platform is that Google Forms keeps track of the answers to each of your questions. So for all of you statistics minded people Googles got you covered. I know how many times my adventure has been played through, and, for example, I know how many people chose the sword as their weapon or the spellbook.
Writing a “Choose Your Own Adventure” is fairly basic. You will write a story in which the reader is the main character, and they must make decisions which will determine the outcome of the story.
In my adventure, the reader is a character whose house has just been invaded by some goblins who are looking for something. As the reader confronts the goblins they have many choices: do the run away, do they hide and listen for information, or do they attack and ask questions later. Here is the toughest part of this style of story; as the writer you must be prepared to connect all of the branching decisions. Each choice leads to an outcome, which leads to another choice and another outcome.
To help you along your way you may wish to have an outline. I found it helpful to have an outline of the basic plot in my head, if not also on paper. Having the outline allowed for an easier flow in the writing and an easier time in connecting the ever increasing branches the story could take.
Also, with this style of adventure there needs to be the chance of failure. The tension that the reader feels while making decisions comes from this very fact. There may be multiple right answers, but there may also be multiple decisions that could lead to disaster. That is okay, because the reader can always go back and try again.
If you are looking for a fun project that you can then share with your friends, even over long distances, creating a “Choose Your Own Adventure” with Google Forms may be for you.
If you, like me, are a visual learner then here is the link to a “How To” video I made for my library. It will show you step-by-step how to use Google Forms to make your own adventure. https://youtu.be/scPjvwlk5LE
Also, if you would like to play my adventure you can click on the following link for part one: Onward, to Adventure – The Intruders. https://forms.gle/reDBqtaCi78WZyLw6
Whatever you choose to do, I hope it is a grand adventure.