Is it acceptable for a gamebook to describe what the reader’s character thinks, and feels? I believe it can be. Certainly if these feelings are somewhat universal, applicable to all but the most hardened psychopath. In the Way of the Tiger series, for instance, when Avenger learns of his foster father’s murder at the hands of the monk Yaemon, I think it’s reasonable to assume a desire for revenge on Avenger’s part. Without that, there’s no story. True, Mark Smith and Jamie Thomson never explicitly describe Avenger’s rage, or sadness. But that initial, very human, impetus for Avenger to seek out Yaemon is present.
Writing a gamebook, I’m happy to make some very basic assumptions about my reader, and my reader’s character, that permit me the liberty of describing thoughts and feelings. Most importantly, I assume that the gamebook character is essentially a real, human person. I assume he cares about other people, even if just a little bit. I have no interest in writing a story told from the perspective of a maniaical butcher, who slaughters his way through life. That’s not a story.
I did receive a review a while back that slammed my first app, The ORPHEUS Ruse, for not allowing the player to be more callous and murderous. Not my problem, vicious reviewer man. Take your bile elsewhere. There are heaps of first-person shooters to cater for your tastes.
So, yes… If a loud noise goes off next to your reader’s character, it’s okay for the writer to say that it startles him, and he jumps.
Another possibility: in the app that I’m currently writing, MetaHuman Inc., I’ll also sometimes describe the character’s feelings – but here, I do so with the reader’s permission, by allowing the reader to choose his character’s motivations as well as his actions. Take a look at the screenshot above, and specifically at the final two options in the choice list. The player is asked to carry out a mercy killing. If he chooses to do so (and he doesn’t have to, of course), he may hate himself for doing it, or he may feel a cold indifference. Here, by allowing the reader to define his motivation for this act, I, as writer, have received tacit permission to describe the feeling it provokes in the following section. Admittedly, in the example above, motivations are implied rather than stated outright. Still, I’m imposing nothing; rather, it’s a collaboration between writer and reader.
And no, I haven’t included an option allowing the reader to joyfully stave in another man’s skull. To reiterate: if that’s your bag, I highly recommend Grand Theft Auto.
(picture credit: http://www.zmescience.com/tag/moral-dilemma/)