The Cup of Death—dramatic much?— is meant to represent the variability of video games. I have nothing to base this on as my own experiences of video games consist of Sonic, DK, and Mario Brothers, none of which have plot lines...at least as far as I remember; I also would skip all of the talk bubbles because they were boring, they might have a little bit of story line running through the game. Choose your own adventure books are not the only way to have an interactive experience with a book; these books are actually an inferior type of interaction.
Interaction with choose your own adventure books is superficial. In The Cup of Death the reader gets to pick between two options: involve the police or not; run or make a phone call; go out the window or the door. However, because the actual story is so short, about 10-15 pages long, one does not have the ability to immerse one’s self in the story. Chose your own adventure stories are usually designed for children, and are actually very well suited to this age group. When read by this audience, these books become didactic. Most obviously, they teach how every action has its consequences, and sometimes different sets of actions lead to the same consequence. By turning these books into a pedagogical tool, they enable the reader to interact with the text. The choices made are not the interactive part.
For an example of good interaction with a text, I will use the book that I am currently reading and which I find myself interacting with it—even if it does not always interact back with me. This book is Breaking the Rules by Suzanne Brockmann. First off, this is part of a series and the story arcs span multiple books. So already before you read the book, you know the characters, their personalities, what their buttons are, etc. This is important for interactivity because it helps build a rapport between the reader and the book. For Breaking the Rules, out of the six point of view characters, four of them are recurring characters. Additionally with point of view, Suzanne Brockmann uses what she calls “deep point of view,” which means, in her own words, ‘I get deep inside of the characters' heads and tell the story through their eyes, using their voices -- their words and thoughts -- as well as their interpretations of various events. I stay in one single character's POV for each scene in this book.’ This enables the reader to quickly become emotionally involved in the story and to interact with it. Even though, as a reader, I have no control over the story, it makes me think and feel and it is in these ways in which I interact with the story.
Perhaps, though, that Breaking the Rules is not the best example because it has so much story being as it is number 16 in the series and it is also geared towards an adult audience. The next example is Alanna: The First Adventure, a ‘children’s’ book written by Tamora Pierce. This book is short, around 220 pages in the mass market edition, but it tells a story. The reader follows Alanna as she disguises herself as a boy to train to be a Knight. The book covers a long time—four years—but it goes into detail; describing not only the setting, but feelings. Again, it comes back to emotion. The Cup of Death has no feelings; it is flat, and I have heard more interesting stories of the same length told by kindergartners.
What it comes down to is that, while you have the ability to make decisions for the character in a choose your own adventure, really all you are doing is the literary version of paint by numbers. The Cup of Death is missing the dialogue between the reader and the characters, and because of this, there is no interaction. Pushing a button does not count as meaningful interaction, and this, really, is the extent of the choose your own adventure interactiveness. However, this interactiveness cannot be extrapolated to video games because you can direct the character, you are not just following a pre-written game-plan. If video games were really like this, I would not fall off every single cliff.