My name is Stuart Lloyd. I have been reading gamebooks since 1990 and writing them since 2008. In 2010, I began a blog on gamebooks with the aim of analysing them to improve my own writing. I post there very rarely now as I have lots more real life responsibilities but my friend Peter Agapov also posts there. Almost all of my work is available for free or Pay-What-You-Want here. The only one that isn’t is an app I did with Tin Man Games.
Tell us about your free gamebook authoring course for kids, what it is and how it came about.
I am a former science teacher who now does science tutoring. I also tutor home educated children. One place I do that is on a website called Thinkers Meet Up. When we went into lockdown, the owner of the website asked her tutors if they could make any video courses to help children at home.
I had written several blog posts on how to write a gamebook. I also made a list of blog posts written by other people about how to write a gamebook which I wanted to put into an ebook about how to write a gamebook. I decided to put them to good use and turn them into a video course.
Why teach kids to write gamebooks?
I loved gamebooks when I was a kid and many kids I have taught love them too. Apart from the fact that they get to create something they love, they can think about stories in ways that they may never done so before. They can realise that stories don’t have to be linear things that someone else lays out for you, but something that you can co-create with the author. they can also practise both their English skills by writing gamebooks and their maths skills by coming up with game systems.
Summarise your main learning points in under 30 words.
Use a flow diagram to plan, think about the types of choices you give readers, think about how you measure success, make sure the die rolls are fair.
How did you first get interested in gamebooks as a kid?
The first time I came across gamebooks was when I bought Talisman of Death from a school jumble sale at the age of 7. I was hooked from the moment I read it. I spent a lot of my childhood hunting for gamebooks and reading as many as I could find. Gamebooks were able to transport me to the fantasy and sci-fi worlds that I had seen on TV in a way that I had never experienced before and combine them with the excitement of trying to win. Gamebooks really have something for everyone.
How will gamebook authoring skills be useful for kids in the future? Writing a gamebook is an exercise in empathy to some degree. You have to think about what the character has to do in the situation you have put them in.
Gamebook authoring also provides an introduction to the idea of logic and programming. A gamebook can be seen as a series of IF statements with different outcomes.
If there are random elements in a gamebook, then writing a gamebook is a great exercise in risk assessment. The author needs to playtest the book and assess whether the probability of success is high enough for a good chance of success but low enough to provide tension for the player.
Check out Stuart Lloyd's
Gamebooks FREE course for 10-14 year olds
"This is a 10 video series which starts with explaining what a gamebook is and encouraging you to read examples of gamebooks online to get a feel of the many and varied world of gamebooks. It explains how to plan a gamebook an write a gamebook. It also involves a little bit of maths that is important for anyone who wants to design a game and finally explains what your readers might want from gamebooks and how to accommodate them."
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Don Bosco's Gamebook Academy: read all posts here