Are gamebooks perpetuating a problem?

I’m not sure if this has anything to do with gamebooks. That doesn’t feel like a very strong opening sentence. Let’s start again.

The modern world feels like a tricky place to thrive in, despite many publications claiming that they will help you do just that. I’ve been thinking about it, and I wonder if the problem isn’t down to two factors that combine dangerously:

  1. Easy access to marginal opinions and echo chambers amplified by social media have made experts’ voices quieter. That leads to increased confusion, greater feelings of stress and anxiety, and bad decision-making at every level.
  2. Increased talk about personal responsibility over systemic problems add guilt onto areas that are truly concerning and yet we have virtually no control. A climate catastrophe is affecting the whole of creation, and it’s your fault for using gas central heating and not recycling enough. Millions of people are trapped in poverty, and it’s your fault for buying a cheap pair of shoes. The economy is at risk, and it’s your fault for voting in these people. Hundreds of thousands of people are dying, and it’s your fault because you chose to not wear a mask.

These can be summed up with the simple idea of individualism. Your life, and your reality, is your own. Your experience should be customised for you. If you can dream it, you can do it. And that’s been very helpful in lots of ways; taking personal responsibility is good, and allowing for innovation has benefitted many.

But the nature of the modern world, with its interconnectedness, globalisation, and the scale and complexity of organisations and communities, is that almost everyone is powerless, and those who could instigate change are motivated not to.

The ones who are in a position to stop – or at least slow down – the climate crisis would have to break up the businesses they have a responsibility to maintain.

The ones who are in a position to essentially solve poverty would have to give up their status as the wealthiest in the world to do so.

And gamebooks play right into this. My sci-fi trilogy can be simply summed up as: the human race needs saving, and the only one who can do it is YOU. (By the way, you can get 10% off your order of that trilogy with the discount code ENTRAM). And in Problematic Protective Poisonous Purple Paint, it’s the very existence of the universe that’s at stake.

I’m therefore wondering what the right way to respond is. Do we need more gamebooks in which you lose no matter what choice you make? Or should YOU, the reader, be put into more situations in which you really don’t have any control?

I’d love to hear what you’d find helpful, interesting!