A real-world reading and writing adventure, Choose Your Own was the brainchild of if:book associate Emily Craven.
A branching narrative in the style of Choose Your Own Adventure books, the project places QR codes around the city that link readers to part of a story and a choice of where to go next. Your choice determines where to go to find the next code and the next part of the story.
In 2012, Emily ran the project with technical assistance from if:book for Adelaide Writers Week.
That same year, if:book joined the Queensland Poetry Festival to create another version of the project. This version of the project explored the hidden places of Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley: discovering secret doorways and forgotten phone boxes and dancing with ghosts of the streets' past and future.
Each of the poetry adventures began from one of three places at the iconic Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Art. From there, participants were directed through on a series of poetic trails facilitated by QR codes linked to geographical locations where, at each juncture, they could choose from one of several options to continue their journey.
It was an interlinking of narrative and location, immersing the reader into the physical environment.
Three Brisbane writers created the adventures and the Valley proved a rich hunting ground for storytelling, with its abundance of dark street corners and historical characters.
The result is an immersive experience that takes you along the Brisbane River with Julie Beveridge, into the rock ‘n’ roll underbelly of the Valley with Carmen Leigh Keates, and through Brisbane’s past and into its future with Chris Lynch.
the beat, the beat, the beat beat Joh; the beat, the beat, the beat beats on
—Chris Lynch, from The City We Build
In creating their adventures, each of the poets took their own approach to the challenge of adapting a traditionally non-narrative artform.
This version of the story was later adapted into The City We Build, an interactive book for Apple's iBooks platform.
The City We Build is an enhanced iBook based on that physical adventure that took place during the Queensland Poetry Festival 2012. To complement the text, we’ve added audio, and invited local photographer Cindy Keong to visually interpret the works of each of the three poets. The book is also filled with hyperlinks, replicating the effect of the original project, without the exercise.
In The City We Build, create your own pathways.
Since then, Emily has further refined and adapted the Choose Your Own format into the amazing Street Reads program, which you'd be foolish not to check out.