Stories from Itch.io on Techdirt.

from pro-choice department

Earlier this year, after Netflix released an iteration of its black mirror series titled Bandersnatchwhich allowed the viewer to choose their own story path through the narrative, the society behind the famous Choose your own adventure books from our childhood continued. Chooseco, armed with a trademark registration for “Choose Your Own Adventure”, claimed that Bandersnatch violated that mark, first because the film had a nod to the literary series in the script, and second simply because many viewers compared the film to the books of their youth. Meanwhile, thanks to Netflix’s renewed focus on CYOA Books – FREE! — , Chooseco has signed an agreement with Amazon to create CYOA-style stories for the Alexa device.

This success, however, did not stop Chooseco’s intimidation methods. Recently, itch.io management publicly warned indie game developers to stop describing their games. like choose your own adventures on the site after Chooseco released several game withdrawals that did. In case you were worried that the facts presented to the public would perfectly convey how absurd this all is, fear not:

Itch.io founder Leaf Corcoran notified developers of the takedowns this afternoon. “Warning all developers using the phrase ‘choose your own adventure’ to describe their games, Chooseco is issuing takedown notices,” he wrote on Twitter. Corcoran tells The Verge that the games include Purrfect Apawcalypse, a “dog apocalyptic dating choose your own adventure game”; a “choose your own dating sim text adventure” game called It’s a Date; an unofficial GameBoy game called Choose Your Own Adventure GB; and New York writer Luke Burns, A Series of Choose Your Own Adventure Stories where no matter what you choose, you’re immediately killed by a werewolf, the plot of which is self-explanatory.

Obviously, these indie games with simple descriptions in their summaries and/or game titles are a serious threat to the Chooseco empire. After all, what member of the public could possibly avoid confusion over a video game accurately described as involving a choice of adventure without naturally assuming it must come from the same company as their childhood books?

This is all stupid on many levels. Chooseco’s trademark is at least partially descriptive. I know it’s true, because some of the games that were bullied only used the brand in their games… you know…descriptive. That seems like as open-ended and closed-ended an answer as these questions tend to have. Add to that the fact that Amazon Alexa literature and stories aren’t the same as video games and I’d wonder if they’re even in the same market as Chooseco products. Finally, I also wonder if there is a single iota of potential public confusion to consider here.

And, to be clear, the end result of this bullying so far is both mockery from other publishers and a party that simply ignores Chooseco.

Mainstream publishers have found clever ways to circumvent the brand. A Gravity Falls offshoot choice book, for example, is billed as a “Choose Your Own Business” novel. And you can’t officially mark a game as “choose your own adventure” on Itch.io; it is automatically converted into “interactive fiction”.

Even so, an Itch.io search for “choose your own adventure” still yields plenty of results. (The common abbreviation “CYOA” apparently didn’t trigger any reviews either.) It’s a widely accepted informal genre name, and Itch.io is a platform that promotes quirky, often free-to-play, independent developers.

Your bullying has resulted in mere mockery and waves of contempt. Turn to page 26 if you want to go to your room and reflect on what you’ve done, or turn to page 77 if you want to continue making the world hate you with your bullying instead.

Filed Under: choose, choose your own adventure, indie games, trademark

Companies: chooseco, itch.io

About Johanna Gooding

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