Friday, 18 January 2013

Biggest Gamebook Ever


Most people prefer longer gamebooks to shorter ones; after all longer gamebooks do offer more space for narrative, exploration and gaming. In this day and age authors are pushing the limits, and the gamebooks being published are much larger than the averge 80s gamebook. These massive gamebooks also feature complex rules and mechanics to go with their massive sizes. Floating around the internet are many different claims as to which gamebook is the longest ever written, with common answers being Crown of Kings, any of the Fabled Lands, or either DestinyQuest book. However I have decided to write this article to properly identify the record holders for largest gamebook ever.

Firstly we must define what we mean by “largest gamebook ever” as there are several ways to measure a gamebook’s size. A gamebook’s size can be measured by the number of pages in the book, the word count of the book, the number of sections in the book and the thickness of the book. Each of these methods has its own advantages and disadvantages for demonstrating the size of the gamebook. Furthermore, surprisingly, each of these categories has a different “winner”. However without access to an easy means of doing an accurate word count or comparison of thickness, I will be comparing the largest gamebooks out there by number pages and number of reference sections. Note that this article only takes into account print copies of books, and takes into account books of all languages. So without further ado here is a breakdown of each of the categories and their “winners”.

Number of pages
The as of 2013 the gamebook with the most pages is German author Swen Harder’s Reiter der Schwarzen Sonne, “Rider of the Black Sun”, winning with an astounding 740 pages! This gamebook is truly a monster in size featuring an intricate combat and special ability system to go with it. For English readers, Michael J Ward’s Heart of Fire is a close second with 736 pages. Though there isn’t much doubt in my mind that Ward’s next book The Eye of Winter’s Fury will break the record in the near future.

Number of Reference Sections
French author Patrick Colthias’ 1789 Qui seriez-vous? Que feriez-vous?, “1789 Who would you be? What would you do?” wins by far with a jaw-dropping 2450 sections! Written over two decades ago, this book hasn’t had any other books come even close to beating it’s record. I doubt this one is going to get beat for quite a while. For English readers, again Michael J Ward wins with the Gollacz edition of The Legion of Shadow having a little of 900 sections.

Possible Runners Up
Fabled lands are large gamebooks even when separate (679-786 sections each), but if compiled and completed (as Dave Morris has implied he would like to do) it would shatter all of these records seeing as half the series already has 4366 section and close to 1000 pages. a good guess is that the full series would have more than double that.
The Lonewolf series follows the same character’s adventures from books 1-18, so comibining all of them into one book would be possible and would result in a gamebook of approximately 6350 sections over 3000 pages.

Conclusion
I hope this article becomes "out of date" soon; I love to see authors push their creative limits in creating vast worlds to explore via in gamebooks. While I do like to write and read short and sweet gamebooks to be enjoyed during a few minutes of spare time, my favourite gamebooks are those that take up a good amount of space on my bookshelf and allow me to become fully immersed in them for hours. Now I want to hear what YOU have to say about the above methods of measuring the size a gamebook? How long do YOU think these records are going to hold? Do YOU prefer a long adventure, and medium sized one, or a short one? Lastly do YOU know of any other large gamebooks that should have been mentioned?

8 comments:

  1. We have now 2 gamebooks in russian written by amateur writers which consists of:
    922/539
    and
    700/409
    paragraphs/pages!
    But, they only published at lulu and in russian, if you interested, they are here:
    http://www.lulu.com/shop/product-20634721.html
    http://www.lulu.com/shop/product-20629712.html

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  2. ha you people have so short knowledge about gamebooks. it makes me laugh. just vheck out the gamebooks on 'chooseyourstory.com'. The lagest gb on tjere is over half a million words and over two thousands words. Even bigger than worlds most biggest novels...

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  3. I feel uneasy about gamebooks with vast numbers of sections. If there are flaws in the writing, you can expect the same mistakes to trip over your eyes countless times. Making a huge project into several smaller books allows the writer to learn from reviews of his or her previous ones, thus improving the work over time instead of making one giant disaster piece.

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  4. I think Destiny Quest 2 has the most pages of any printed Gamebook. I am curious though which one has the most words though as books come in many shapes and sizes. I also didn't see mention of http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/314653974/maelorum-an-epic-gamebook

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  5. I would also mention I might be making a bid for this soon. I'm actually trying to find ways to trim it down, but Shadow over Rema is shaping up to be pretty darn big. Won't be able to give you any exact details for a while yet, though.

    I'd also be curious as to the size of Infinite Universe, by Andrew Drage (Brewin). I remember some comments about it being pretty darn weighty in word count, although I still haven't had a chance to play it all the way through, myself.

    Of course, both of those are (or will be) digital, so page count is not applicable. But page count is unreliable anyway, due to font size, layout etc. Number of sections is also unreliable, since sections can vary from an average of 50 words (many old gamebooks) to an average of 200-300 words (my Shadow over Rema) or higher.

    If you want to really analyse this effectively, you'd have to make a research project of it, contact publishers/authors/etc. and figure out the actual word count of the various contenders. Now /that/ is something I'd be interested to see.

    However, a previous commenter is right; I suspect some of the digital content on ChooseYourStory.com or Infinite-story.com would be fair contenders, if not outright winners.

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  6. I did wonder if Infinite Universe would get a mention in this context ;)

    Not that I actually set out to break any records (just write something "epic"), but it has a word count of around 170,000 words, not including the "Bloggopedia" which is another 20,000 or so words, or the content I cut out which was around another 40,000 words... I'd suggest that this is of a comparable size to the first Destiny Quest book for instance (which has a word count of about 170,000 I think I read somewhere), but the second Destiny Quest is even bigger than that.

    As for the first Maelorum gamebook, I can confirm that its word count is a little under 150,000 words (not sure the exact count though)...

    I agree with Ashton that word count is a much better estimate of "size" than page or section count, and that from the sounds of things his Gamebook Adventures title will surpass Infinite Universe in size... But I also agree with Nicholas' sentiments above and that "bigger" isn't necessarily "better" ;)

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  7. I think the consequence of "size", in terms of the total number of paragraphs, depends on the type of gamebook. If a gamebook is fairly linear in structure, a lot of paragraphs will simply make it a long gamebook; if a gamebook is of the CYOA type, a lot of paragraphs gives scope for many different endings; if a gamebook is of the non-linear, "Fabled Lands" type, a lot of paragraphs allows for more exploration. I think the latter type of gamebook benefits from having as many paragraphs as possible.

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  8. "The Diamond Key" by Ulysses Ai, written in 2007, has 1,000 sections and 220,000 words.

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