EDIT: I had the comments settings so that only members of the blog can comment. I have now changed them so that anyone can comment. Please, knock yourselves out (but comment on the blog first).
So, there are a lot of gamebooks where the choices you make could lead to your character's death. And some of those choices will be completely arbitrary where you have no idea that the choice will lead to your character's death.
Can that be fun?
The consequences of arbitrary choices
You know the kind of choice. The which door kind of choice. Do you go left or right? Do you go through the wooden door on the left or the wooden door on the right? Should you drink out of the left conical flask or the right conical flask?
|In real life, neither of them, you maniac!|
It's probably impossible to have a gamebook with no arbitrary choices.
However, arbitrary choices can be find. The frustration arises because of the consequences of those choices. If the arbitrary choices mean the difference of a few stamina points or an extra combat or a few more gold pieces, then I'm not going to complain. If there's an arbitrary choice which results in you missing the vital item/clue and you have no idea that you needed it and there is no way of getting it again and there is no other item/clue that you can get that will take its place, then I will find that annoying.
But should it be? If I approached gamebooks with the philosophy that maybe they should be played through several times and the choices should be explored to see how to avoid the death and try a different option, then the gamebook is doing what it intended to.
What method provides more replayability? On the one hand, gamebooks that kill you arbitrarily are replayed to find the right path. Gamebooks that don't kill you arbitrarily could be replayed to see what the different paths do. I suppose it might not make much difference. If you succeed at the gamebook that arbitrarily kills you early on and know that it arbitrarily kills you, then I guess you won't want to bother exploring the other paths. If exploration is more of a fun option, then maybe you will. I guess it also depends on how you feel towards the game. If the gamebook is a challenge to be beaten, then I guess you will replay the book over and over until you win. If you look at it as something to kick back and explore with/create a narrative with then having arbitrary deaths would be a put off.
So which method is more fun? I guess that depends on your gamebook player type. If you like a challenge, then having arbitrary deaths due to choices would be fun.
If you are an explorer/storyteller, then you probably won't want your experience cut short by an arbitrary death.
What do you think?