Wednesday, April 22, 2015

April A to Z - S is for sound based gamebooks (an interview with Matt Benson from the Pick Your Path podcast)

Hello all! Since the April A to Z has started, a new gamebook podcast has started. It is called Pick Your Path, by Matt Benson.  It has currently started a preview episode and the next episode is due in May. Matt has a very wide range of podcasts and other materials on his site, so check them out too.

Here is Matt...



My name is Matt Benson. I cofounded the Benview Network and host nearly half the shows on it. I've been writing creatively since I was 11 (I've gotten much better since then) and reading gamebooks even longer.

The Benview Network is a podcast collective that deals in both the creation of pop culture, with scripted shows like Midnight Marinara and Pick Your Path, and the criticism of pop culture, with review shows like Nerd's Eye View; shut up, leonard; and Comic Nerds Unite. It was founded by myself and Andrew Linde (also a writer for Pick Your Path) and is named after our first two podcasts, BENson's Boombox and the aforementioned Nerd's Eye VIEW.

I had really wanted to do a fully scripted show for a while. I was writing sketches for Benson's Boombox, but I wanted to something long form ever since I started listening to the Thrilling Adventure Hour. Every podcast I had heard before that was just a few people sitting in a room talking and then suddenly here was this scripted show that was funny and fantastic and every bit as good as something you'd see on TV or read in a comic, but it was a podcast. I so badly wanted to do that, but since they all ready did that, I had to think of something else. I remember also around this same time CYOA seemed to be having a bit of a resurgence. I know I was spending a lot of time on the You Chose Wrong tumblr. And then I read To Be Or Not To Be, Ryan North's excellent CYOA version of Hamlet. That's when I realized that this was something I could and desperately wanted to do as a podcast.

The structure will pretty much be the same as a CYOA book. Each episode will have a short introduction and then the story begins. Each episode will be a different scripted story that plays off the familiar tropes of CYOA, with chapters, like an audiobook so the listener can make choices. In the style of CYOA, it will be all ages friendly, but not without dire consequences. We tell parents who might want to listen with their kids to think of Doctor Who or Goosebumps in terms of gruesomeness. There will be music and the occasional sound effect and a whole lot of fun!

The first month's story is called "Don't Blow Up the Universe." I wrote it and in it, a couple of shadowy organizations contact you to let you know that your neighbor built a time machine. Your goal is to make it through the adventure without getting stranded in time or creating any paradoxes that blow up the universe (as the title suggests).

You can support us in all the classic ways that you support a podcast. Subscribe to us on iTunes, rate us, review us, that all helps us in the rankings and tell all your friends about us! 

I mentioned it earlier, it's To Be Or Not To Be by Ryan North. It's hilarious, prone to fanciful tangents, and, at times, provides intelligent and engaging commentary on the work of William Shakespeare. It's great, though I do feel a little guilty choosing a recent release as my all time favorite. My heart will always be with the original CYOA series, but it's so hard to pick one of those specifically since I read them all as a kid and now they all kind of bleed together in my mind.

I like a gamebook that goes in as many crazy directions as possible. If you can pick out two random pages and it's hard to tell if they came from the same book, that's a winner. Of course all the different threads should make sense, but a lot of my favorite memories with gamebooks involve accidentally turning to the wrong page and thinking, "How the heck did I get here?"

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