It was early 1977 and I was lost, deep in an underground cave system. I’d been exploring it for hours, sometimes walking upright but often crawling through tight passages, marveling at its vast caverns of intricate stone formations, and occasionally even stumbling across ancient bits of treasure: coins, some silver bars, a large and unwieldy nugget of gold. Now I had entered a section of very similar-looking chambers, and was having trouble finding my way back out.
None of this was happening “for real.” I was a character in a story, a story I was helping to write. A fellow by the name of Willie Crowther had outlined the story in such a way that readers like myself could guide its course, choosing which directions to explore and how to interact with the creatures and objects I encountered.
The “Choose Your Own Adventure” books by Packard and others had only just started to be published, and fantasy role-playing games (RPGs) such as Dungeons & Dragons® were also quite new, and I had not yet heard of either genre. Crowther, who did have some experience with RPGs, had laid out a world much as a “dungeon-master” might, and was guiding me as we together wrote the tale of my adventure. But he had not written it as a “choose your own adventure” book; he had written it as a computer program.