Prizvanie Geroi (Призвание Герой) Magazine, Bulgaria
In 2012-2014, I briefly participated in the resurgence of the gamebook genre in Bulgaria by publishing two short interactive stories in a serial anthology.
Gamebooks, also known as interactive fiction or "choose-your-own-adventure" stories, allow the reader to make decisions about how the story unfolds. Some gamebooks offer only occasional binary choices, while others are complex narratives with multiple paths to victory, enhanced with RPG elements like item management, Hit Points and more elaborate battle systems.
Gamebooks had their heyday in North America in the 1980's with series such as Endless Quest, Fighting Fantasy, Blood Sword, HeroQuest dominating the genre. As the popularity of video games eclipsed interactive fiction, they faded into obscurity. However, as low-tech, self-contained game systems that could be distributed as easily as pulp fiction, they were perfectly suited to a different market: that of post-Communist Bulgaria.
In the early 90s, Bulgarian teens and young adults were starved for gaming, but video games were expensive and hard to come by. When translator Lubomir Nikolov stumbled across an American gamebook in a used bookstore in 1992, he saw the potential of the genre, and kicked off an 8-year golden age of gamebook publishing in Bulgaria. Several hundred gamebooks were written by Bulgarian authors using Western pennames, and many fascinating innovations and experimental game mechanics could be traced back to that era. As an impressionable teenager, I was enthralled with the possibilities of interactive fiction.
Gamebook publishing dried up as personal computers and gaming cafés became more widespread in the late 90s, but my fascination with this gaming format endured. Over a decade later, after going through a slew of video games, board games and role-playing games, I wrote two short gamebook stories under the penname Peter Vale. They were published in 2012 and 2014 as part of the second wave of gamebook publishing that began in Bulgaria in 2010.