What Comes Next? ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’-style TV!
In the 1980s, one of the highlights of childhood was the ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books. They appealed to both boys and girls equally, and were mostly action/adventure stories where every few pages you’d be faced with a cliffhanger plotline, and the choice between two decisions that you as the reader had to make. The option you chose changed the entire course of the story, and often dictated whether the main character lived or died, so the stakes certainly felt high! It was engrossing, exciting, and interactive, and gave kids a little taste of the power they were lacking in their everyday lives.
With the leaps and bounds in technology over the last thirty years, interactivity has moved from the printed page to the television screen, and kids are once again the focus.
Nickelodeon has thrown a hat into the ring with SpongeBob SquarePants: You Bring The Color where fans of the zany yellow sponge can use different platforms to engage with the show. By visiting the website during July and August, they can choose from one of dozens of scenes to digitally colour for the show’s famous opening scenes, some of which will be chosen to go to air during a special week of themed new episodes, called You Bring The Color. Other creations can be viewed in an online gallery, complete with the artist’s name and the American state in which they live, with further colouring opportunities planned for an upcoming black and white episode called ‘Squid Noir’. Kids can also download and print their creations, even if they don’t make it onto the television. It’s impressive boundary pushing for an offering that is about to launch its 12th season!
Netflix is another brand trying new interactive features, with the global launch in June of ‘Puss In Book: Trapped In An Interactive Tale’ where at various points in the so called ‘branching’ story, the action stops and viewers are presented with a choice. Yes, they get to choose what happens to Puss In Boots (from the ‘Shrek’ franchise) via their television remote control, game controller or touchscreen, depending on which type of device they are watching. Should Puss be a friend of the Three Bears, or their sworn enemy?
Naturally I couldn’t resist trying it for myself, so my 7-year-old daughter and I sat down and shared the controls. It was as fun as I remember the ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books being, and we’re both looking forward to the next interactive shows from Netflix, with ‘Buddy Thunderstruck: The Maybe Pile’ just launched, and ‘Stretch Armstrong: The Breakout’ coming in 2018.
In the meantime, I must now play my own grown up version of Choose Your Own Adventure and decide: do I want to empty the dishwasher, or should I fold the washing? Sigh.