The Choosatron Deluxe Adventure Matrix is a Wi-Fi connected Choose Your Own Adventure®-inspired story printer, blending digital and analogue storytelling. It is designed to be easily assembled by kids into a small interactive fiction game box, and encourage social reading, learning, and play. As you play, you make decisions that affect the outcome of the story printing out on the thermal paper. This results in a paper scroll artifact, representing a linear, personal path through a much larger story. Unlike paperbound books, but much like life, choices cannot be taken back (at least not on that play-through), giving them a weight that prompts critical thinking. You press a button, and are greeted with a simple printout of the stories available to play. A few button presses later, and you already have a tale to tell that others are unlikely to experience the same way.
Developed by Jerry Belich with help from Megan Dowd - an experiment in storytelling.
The Choosatron is about playfulness and imagination. The physical and analogue aesthetic enforces a focused experience, allowing players to fall into its bite-size adventures. It is a way to introduce reading material for assisting with literacy, language learning, and even explore reactions to complex interactive situations. Current story content explores interactive science, such as taking the role of a bee in a hive, and historical discovering, such as exploring Pompeii before the disaster hit. Beyond introducing stories in a novel form, the purpose is also to spark imaginations so the reader may become the writer.
A writing app that talks directly to the Choosatron over a Wi-Fi chip hidden within its analogue exterior allows the creation of original stories that can be sent to, and played on the Choosatron without a complex technological barrier. In this way the Choosatron itself is quite subversive; a siren of stories, spinning tale after tale to convince unwitting players into exploring its depths. Knowing they have only experienced a fraction of one adventure, they come again and again. It is a vessel for exploring what keeps the mind engaged. How we interact with content is just as important as the content itself, something often forgotten when our choices increasingly focus on convenience over meaning. I’ve been asked many times why I didn’t just make a mobile game. Imagine yourself reading or playing on your phone, the thought of another person breaking into your personal space violates social norms, and would be considered downright rude. With the Choosatron, it is common for strangers to engage each other while one plays. Beginning with glances at their story so far, the choices they’ve made, and even progressing to giving input. Yet as observed, not one player has ever felt violated by this invasion of personal space.