Did you ever read “Choose Your Own Adventure” books? The ones where you, the reader, get to decide what the main character does at various junctions? As a child of the 1980s, I have fond memories of using my fingers as placeholders in the pages of these books, trying to keep track of each decision branch so that I could go back and choose differently the next time.
Choose Your Own Adventure fiction, or interactive fiction, as it’s known, is experiencing a renaissance thanks to the ubiquity of e-readers. The open-source software Twine lets you write your own interactive stories, and companies like Inkle Studios (which produced the gorgeous, award-winning game 80 Days), Choice of Games, and Delight Games are bringing them to the world.
Because I tend to filter everything through the lens of cryptic crosswords, I took one look at these platforms and thought: “why not have an interactive cryptic crossword tutorial?”
If you solve cryptic crosswords, you know from experience that it’s easier to learn when you have someone teaching you. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s nearly impossible to learn without interacting with your teacher. Unfortunately, not all of us have someone patient and enthusiastic by our sides, available whenever we are to explain the finer points of cryptic crossword solving.
I’m going to try to create a comprehensive interactive cryptic crossword tutorial.
By the end of the year, if all goes according to plan, you’ll be able to download a copy and “choose your own adventures” in the world of anagrams, homophones, synonyms, and riddles. Or present it as a gift to someone you know who would love cryptic crosswords but never had a chance to learn. Until then, I’ll be blogging about the challenges and victories I encounter along the way.
But first, I’m asking for your help. If you have used the tutorial on this site, let me know what you think of it so that I can improve it for the interactive tutorial. What works? What doesn’t? What would you like to see more of?