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48% Americans know what gamebooks are

March 10, 2015

I recently ran a miniature survey to gauge interest in egamebook and to find out more about the kind of people who might be interested in it. I thought I’d share what I learned because much of it could be interesting to others.

Survey screenshot

The survey ran in Google Consumer Surveys, which is a tool that lets people do market research. These surveys then run on the web as an alternative to internet pay walls for websites that publish content. The surveys are pretty accurate, at least if you trust Nate Silver, who says that “the Google consumer surveys’ election polls were ranked second in terms of reliability and lack of bias in predicting election results.”1 The software does the statistical magic to convert from numbers about recipients (sample) to numbers about the society (population) for you. The surveys are paid — one answer ranges from $0.10 to about $2.00.

Disclaimer: I am a Google employee. But I did pay full price for the survey, and I had no internal help setting it up nor running it.

Survey gif

There were only two questions:

  1. Have you ever read a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book or a gamebook?
  2. How does this prototype of a mobile e-gamebook look to you?

With Consumer Surveys, you get demographic data ‘for free’ — you don’t need to ask how old people are, what their income is, and so on. These pieces of information are inferred and approximated. So we have some data on who the people that play(ed) gamebooks are.

The survey ran in the US and so the numbers below apply to the US population.

Are you ready for the results?

I originally wanted to write an analysis for the data, but I think it’s better to just give you the link to the survey results (which I just made public) and a couple of highlights. I’ll ignore the second question here as it is specific to egamebook. Let’s focus on the data on gamebooks in general.2

None of those are too surprising, but it’s good to have a bit of hard data.


  1. Source: wikipedia

  2. I’ll be a horrible person and report differences even when error bars overlap. Scientifically, it’s wrong to say there’s a difference. But I feel like in some cases, the error bars overlap so slightly it may not be scientifically correct but it’s still worth reporting. You can see the data anyways, so make your own mind. 

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Complex game worlds, simple interfaces »

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Complex game worlds, simple interfaces 25 Aug ’15 The whole point of egamebook is to allow for complex game worlds that are controlled by a series of simple choices. By simple, I don't mean "easy" or "without complex consequences". I just mean they're not a complicated interface.[^2] They're a list of 2 to 5 options to choose from. [^2]: You could say that even strategic games like Civilization only present a few buttons at a time. But you're forgetting the world map where each of the thousands of tiles is a potential option. [^3]: In the Ludum Dare version of the game, there is just one opposing faction: the humans. But if I get to move the game forward, it'll be easy for me to add others. Also, the same code can be used for monsters (something like captains) inside the player faction, so the player can delegate. [^1]: Almost all games are simulations. Super Mario or Pac-Man are simulated worlds, although very simple. [^7]: Move unit A to location α, move unit A to location β, ... move unit Z to location ω. [^8]: Think games like Grand Theft Auto, where almost any player has tried at least once to do something self-destructive. [^9]: I'm sure some Civilization players out there have done it, but probably not more than once. [^10]: Actually, the algorithm of choosing the options to show is a bit more involved. To ensure that there's always variety, the algorithm makes sure that there are no more than three options of the same _type_. So even if the AI things the 5 most desirable actions for the player right now are to attack (the only thing changing is the city), then we only choose the 3 most desirable ones, but also give the player other types of options: laying eggs, moving, and so on. [^11]: The [rocket jump](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocket_jumping) is a good example. [^12]: Railroading is the term used when a game keeps you from doing what you want and leads you in an overly linear fashion. TV Tropes has a [good article about it](http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Railroading), as usual.

48% Americans know what gamebooks are 10 Mar ’15 I recently ran a miniature survey to gauge interest in egamebook and to find out more about the kind of people who might be interested in it. I thought I’d share what I learned because much of it could be interesting to others.

Blog started 7 Mar ’15 Building egamebook — the system for writing non-trivial electronic gamebooks — has been a years-long journey already and I have poured lots of energy, time and thinking into it.