About one out of four Americans (24%) have ever read any gamebooks (“such as Choose Your Own Adventure, Fighting Fantasy, Lone Wolf, or solitaire RPG adventures such as the Tunnels & Trolls series”), up from 20% in 2019.

Here are the most common themes people mentioned when describing their experiences—

  1. Childhood enjoyment and nostalgia: Many respondents mentioned enjoying gamebooks as children, in school, and having fond memories of reading them. “I read them when I was a kid – my local library had a lot of them.”
  2. Fun and entertainment: Many described gamebooks as entertaining and enjoyable. They appreciated the interactive nature of these books. “Fun to read as a kid. The adventure could change depending on your decisions.”
  3. Multiple endings/choices: The ability to make choices and to experience different outcomes. Respondents enjoyed the variety of multiple endings. “I like that you can change the story based on which page you pick.” “I thought they were interesting and an interactive way to read a book.”
  4. Positive impact on reading: Many respondents mentioned that gamebooks played a positive role in developing their reading habits and sparking their interest in books. “I used to read them as a kid in elementary school. I read every one of them that they had in the school library, probably around thirty or forty books at that time. They were my favorite books at that point in my life. Who wouldn’t love a book where you get to have some say as to how the story goes? Of course, I used to reread them, exploring how every decision would change the overall outcome of the story.”
  5. Limited recent experience: Some respondents pointed out they haven’t read gamebooks in a while or that their experience is based on memories rather than recent encounters with this genre. “It’s been a long time since I have read this kind of books.”
  6. Connection to other media: A few respondents mentioned connections to other forms of media, such as movies or video games or role-playing games, and compared gamebooks to those experiences. “They are fun. It’s like an old school way to video game. Or a gateway to RPGs.”

Slightly more Americans (28%) have ever “played any text adventures or interactive fiction games on a computer, tablet or smartphone, such as Choice of Games, Infocom, or Twine games.” This is also up from 20% in 2019.

Reading of gamebooks peaks among Millennials (32%), reflecting the decline of the Choose Your Own Adventure brand in later years. In contrast, playing IF (Interactive Fiction) and text adventure games increases inversely to age, rising from 11% of Boomers to 22% of Gen X, 35% of Millennials, and 43% of Gen Z adults.

This online survey of 1,411 U.S. adults aged 18 and up was conducted from May 19 to 24, 2023, by Researchscape International. The data were weighted to the U.S. population by nine demographic questions. The credibility interval for questions answered by all respondents is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Photo by Ben Mathis Seibel on Unsplash.