Can we stop referring to CoGs as CYOAs please?

So…just saying, but it always rips a bit of my soul when people refer to CoGs as CYOAs.

  • CYOA is not synonymous with interactive fiction. It’s a brand.
  • I appreciate CYOA for popularising IF, and I also grew up on the R.L. Stein gamebooks. That said, Choice of Games simply have better writing, better characters, and better choices. We’re doing ourselves a disservice every time we make this comparison.

Yesterday, I ran into my ex-girlfriend’s sister’s boyfriend and we started to chat. Eventually, he said, “Oh yeah, don’t you write…” He paused and thought for a long time, and then finally said, “Choose Your Own Quest?”

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated his question, but it was also a bit painful being associated with CYOA when I’m actually published by the best text based IF company there is, and I have nothing to do with CYOA.


Well… good to know that i knew HG and CoG before i understand what is CYOA :wink:


Except it is. CYOAs have inspired IFs and both have numerous common points (although there’s just as many differences.

Yes but that’s for Choice of Games. Some IFs I’ve seen on Google Play make CYOAs look like MMORPGS. CYOAs and IFs aren’t good or bad by themselves, they simply are. An excellent CYOA might be railroaded, but be better than a game with tons of badly written paths.

Personally I don’t care. I don’t think I’m entitled to some kind of respect just because the books I read/make are more complex.


I always assume cyoa was like horror or fantasy . A genre not a company. The problem with IF as a term is

Dragon Age: is it interactive? Yes. Is it fiction? Yes.
That shitty DVD version of one of the Final destinations: is it interactive? Yes. Is it fiction? Yes

And hg and cog are super specific.
We could go text adventures but Zork isn’t the same as cog games.


I use CYOA all the time when explaining CoG games. Most of my friends have been more familiar with that as a concept than IF, so it’s easier to go from “Like the CYOA books, but…[it varies but usually something about how you don’t die for choosing the “wrong” paths, then a rant about how inclusive the character creation is]” than defining IF from scratch, and it’s got the automatic text/novel based connotations that IF lacks.

I never really thought of it as a disservice; I think most people I talk to get that it’s a bit more complex than the 20 page CYOA Dragonology books we played with when I start mentioning the multiple romance options and That Time I Accidentally Invaded Alaska. It’s just a quick comparison for people who have no idea what I’m talking about otherwise, and don’t really want to sit through an explanation of the mechanics to get to the explanation of the plot.


Except it’s really not. That would be like calling all cars Toyotas.

Coyotes toyotes

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Choose Your Own Adventure and the Choose Your Own Adventure in oval are trademarks of Chooseco LLC and are registered in the United States and in international jurisdictions. Chooseco’s trademarks, service marks, and trade dress may not be used in connection with any product or service that is not affiliated with Chooseco LLC, or in any manner that is likely to cause confusion among customers, or in any manner that disparages or discredits Chooseco LLC.


Facts are nice, aren’t they? :smiley:


Personally, I don’t think we should stop referring to CoG’s as CYOA’s. I see CYOA as a genre that these games fit under. A kind of blanket term. Plus I found Choice of Games in the first place by typing in something along the lines of “online choose your own adventure games”.


But it’s not a genre or a blanket term. It’s just incorrectly used as such. It’s a trademarked brand.

CYOA has become, or is becoming, a generic trademark like how “Hoover” is synonymous with a vacuum cleaner in the UK even though many people don’t use a Hoover Company-branded vacuum cleaner, or how Velcro is used in lieu of Hook-and-loop fastener despite the Velcro Company’s efforts.

It is used this way because it is an easy point of reference for many people, and because of the diversity of interactive fiction on the market right now, it is the closest commonly-used term. I have seen far fewer people refer to this sort of medium as gamebooks than CYOA, and ultimately it is popular use that determines what the name of a genre is. CYOA has become more than a trademark, it has become a subgenre of interactive fiction. Calling CoGs CoGs is self-defeating because people would have to know what CoGs are in order to understand what one is talking about. Simultaneously, just placing it under “interactive fiction” confuses matter further, due to the expansion of the genre in recent years.

Calling CoG just “interactive fiction” would not be useful today, as that can technically cover everything from “walking simulators” like Dear Esther, to Telltale-style games, to Visual Novels to Kinetic Novels to CYOA. You would have to narrow down “choice-based text game” into something simpler to describe the category in which COGs are.

Steam is not a representative of the market, and the tag system is moderated by Steam Staff, but just take a look, how many games tagged with CYOA are actually published by Chooseco?:

With regards to a CoG game, let’s take Tin Star for an example:

Indie. RPG. Western. Choose Your Own Adventure.

The trademark holder may dispute it, but it has entered the common vernacular.


Maybe not technically. But if I was playing say, The Wayhaven Chronicles, and somebody asked me, “What type of game is that?” I’m not going to say, “Its a Choice of Games game.” I could say “Its a game where its like a book but I’m given choices that effect the story in different ways.” but the most common response you’ll get is, “So its like a Choose Your Own Adventure game?”. We all grew up with CYOA games and pretty much everyone knows what it is. By using the term CYOA it gives the person you’re talking to some context.


Dat shitstorm. O.O

It’s my understanding that sometimes even trademarked terms can become generic over time because of popular use, but I’m not a lawyer and could be wrong about that.

For an “Introduction to Trademark Law” according to WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization):

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Here’s another take on this…instead of taking the easy route and piggy backing on the CYOA brand, why don’t we just try to get the term interactive novel more exposure? If people search up CYOA, they’ll be directed to…the Choose Your Own Adventure website. Whereas interactive novel will get a lot of CoG results, as CoG is the predominant user of that term.


Well, I never used that name however try to explain To a Spanish people what if is without using CYOA as examples. Because that’s the only if People know. I personally love If because it is more accurate and because include magnificent video games.
It is so easy win any debate against People saying “THIS IS NOT A GAME … WHERE IS GRAPHICS?”
I smile and say hi, look in the Wikipedia first video games and search for Zork and The cave… We have been before of everything in computers… So we have more pedigree to be called video games than absolutely everything you consider a video game.

Seriously, Every time I read whinny people saying “This is not a game!!” My blood boils . When is by definition the core of what a video games is and it’s origin.

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I try to use the term, choice game. For someone who doesn’t know what that means, I’ll describe it. If I get blank stares, I resort to saying they’re like choose your own adventure stories (if they’re older like me) or Telltale Games.

I totally see your point, Sam. I just think it depends on the audience and how much effort I want to put into describing it.


As it has been stated before CYOA has become a generic term like kleenex etc.

People know what is meant, and heck up to this thread i didn’t even know there even is a company by that generic term.


I agree with the others who say that CYOA is used more as a genre than anything else. It’s easily identifiable and makes sense. It’s like getting mad at everyone for saying “band aid” when we should be calling it an “adhesive bandage.” It comes off as rather elitist and nitpicky.