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It’s time to reappraise the humble Choose Your Own Adventure book (prospectmagazine.co.uk)
151 points by glassworm on Jan 1, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 85 comments

I'm currently finishing my PhD on interactive storytelling--how rhetoric works in interactive stories, how they can function as models or simulations of social realities (and thereby help us understand the dynamics of positionality, race, etc.), and how they represent a broadened view of what K-12 CS might look like.

I'd love to talk more if anyone's interested!

* [Unfold Studio](https://unfold.studio/) is a web app for reading and writing interactive stories, using the programming language Ink.

* [A draft](http://chrisproctor.net/media/publications/proctor_2018_unfo...) article offering a conceptual framework, documenting the web application, and analysis of how student authors used it.

A tool I have used in the past (and one of the favorites for folks doing full Visual Novels) is "RenPy" which is based on Python - https://www.renpy.org/

Not involved with the tool itself, but have created a few works with it and enjoy the fact it can run on so many platforms and target so many others.

Another one that's been around for decades at this point is the Inform[1] platform. There's still an active group of people who produce all sorts of interactive fiction books in the vein of CYOA books that are of surprisingly great quality.

[1]: http://inform7.com/

Yet another tool of note for writing CYOA interactive fiction is Twine (http://twinery.org/), which has become a defacto standard of sorts of an interactive narrative writing tool more specifically for hypertext CYOA.

For example of its growing ubiquity, it was admitted that most of the Black Mirror Bandersnatch CYOA episode was written and tested in Twine.

RenPy is the VN software that gave us, among others, DDLC and Katawa Shoujo.

I clicked on Cliff Story randomly (https://unfold.studio/stories/1293) and it reminded me a lot of the themes in a story my 11-year-old nephew made (https://ianb.github.io/Choose-Your-Own-Adventures/The-Bad-Ba...) - making abrupt and poor decisions, the resulting jail time, or getting into fights with other people. I'm guessing it's a way to ideate about impulsive urges.

What are your thoughts on the Bandersnatch episode of Black Mirror?

unfold seems nicely designed for narrative and preset choices, what are your thoughts about including a parser to allow more freeform choices? That would significantly increase the options you'd have to cover, but hints could focus the user in rewarding directions. I'm interested in using this type of story-telling to teach language learning, so student output/writing is as important as reading/input.

I don't think I'd choose Ink for parsing open-ended responses. Ink is an interesting language--it gives up some elegance in its programming syntax to gain more of a prose-like feeling. (I think the level of tradeoff is roughly comparable to HTML templating languages like Jinja2--it's an open question how an interface like Ink compares to block-based languages for beginners, but I'm optimistic). I am planning to include the ability to prompt for text input in an upcoming release, but the intent is more to support in-game identity-building. For example, you could prompt for the player's name and then refer to it later.

I haven't looked much in to languages for open-ended interactive storytelling, but I thought Nick Montfort's dissertation was pretty interesting--a technical treatment of a system for heavy-duty worldbuilding.

I'm also interested in using this system for language learning, particularly in multilingual classrooms/contexts. In some of the early classroom workshops, students were exploring how they get treated differently (and some people open up more) when speaking different languages.

I tried to register for unfold and it just 500's for me.

Huh--sorry! It just worked for me; i'll check the logs later today. Thanks for letting me know.

If it helped, I was doing so via a google account.

Ah--probably a result of Google deprecating Google Plus APIs. I thought I had a little more time; Google said "On March 7, 2019, all Google+ APIs and Google+ Sign-in will be shut down completely. This will be a progressive shutdown beginning in late January, with calls to these APIs starting to intermittently fail as early as January 28, 2019." Thanks!

It's still failing for me

What rekindled my love of CYOA was the Fabled Lands series of books (unfortunately unfinished currently). Rather than linear progression, it used a hub and spoke style to make essentially an open world RPG. Each book extended the world and you could travel from one book to the other. Plenty of tasks to complete. This page shows the difference in layout vs a typical CYOA: http://www.squidi.net/three/entry.php?id=204 And here's the main page: http://fabledlands.blogspot.com/p/fabled-lands-gamebooks.htm... which also has links to extras to play (even an app). I recommend anyone interested in CYOA check them out.

Fabled lands is great, a real masterclass in building a freely traversable world with persistent state using very minimal notation. I love how they wrote little adventures that are triggered in one location in one book, require you to go to a location in another book, complete some task and the return to the starting point, all tacked with a few simple check boxes. Great stuff. One of the authors has a great gaming blog.


> require you to go to a location in another book,

That's some very powerful and clever up-selling, but was it not enraging in practice?

Well, if they haven't included any connection to other books, people could complain that it's too self-contained, there is no way to win.

Not really, these were mainly side-quests. You could do well over 95% of each book stand alone.

It's funny this should come up, I've spent the last year developing a framework for the construction of CYOA-style adventures on a website I run. It's a creative-writing / creative-expression heavy community, so the hope is that this will go over very well. We're scheduled for our grand release later this month :)

It's got a number of elements inspired by D&D 5e, as well as from Game Books I used to enjoy as a child. Interestingly, it has analogues for many of the conceps in the Squidi post you link to. For example, it's got "encounters" which perform essentially the same thing as GOSUB routines, and has "Expressions" which are calculations that can rely on adventure state and can be used to conditionally hide or unhide particular actions that an adventurer can take.

In case anyone's interested, the reference documentation where you can see our structure and how things work is here: https://www.mycenacave.com/kb/adventure

I'm extremely proud of it.

The only Choose Your Own Adventure book I had was "Inside UFO 54-40". The objective was to reach the paradise planet called Ultima Thule. Looking through all the pages in the book, there was a page for Ultima Thule, but working backwards there didn't seem to be any page "linking" to it. I assumed it must have been a "bug" (I'd had several low budget paperbacks with missing pages or other assembly errors by that time), but only found out relatively recently that it was actually a "feature": "As the series progressed, both Packard and Montgomery experimented with the gamebook format, sometimes introducing unexpected twists such as endless page loops or trick endings. Examples include the 'paradise planet' ending in Inside UFO 54-40, which can only be reached by cheating or turning to the wrong page by accident"[0].

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Choose_Your_Own_Adventure

In Fighting Fantasy books, you could sometimes get to secret locations this way: the book is asking you at some point to do simple arithmetic on a number gained from an earlier encounter, and jump there, without an explicit link to the page.

So that's where the name Ultima Thule [1] came from! I remember this book, and I remember stumbling upon the ending and coming to the same conclusion: The only way to get there is to break out of the storyline imposed by the author. A nice sophisticated bit of meta-narrative there.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/12/31/science/new-h...

Ultima Thule was classic/medieval Latin name for a supposed place beyond the northern borders of the known world.

From time to time the name was used to refer to Norway, Iceland or Greenland but no real place is really consistent with all the stories that were told about it. The historian Polybius refers to Pythea "telling us also about Thule, those regions in which there was no longer any proper land nor sea nor air, but a sort of mixture of all three of the consistency of a jellyfish in which one can neither walk nor sail, holding everything together, so to speak."

Some Nazis also thought it was the mythical origin place of the Aryan race and there's been some fuss made about that, but Nazis thought (and think) a lot of stupid stuff.

The CYOA book was just making reference to this mythology.

It seems like Netflix is thinking the same way. Their "Bandersnatch" Black Mirror special (released recently) has a choose-your-own adventure interactivity to it. I'd consider it a spiritual successor to the books.


I assumed this article was either or written by someone watching or reading about the episode. It seemed nearly impossible to not know about it in the internet world I inhabit. For what it's worth, I understood the genesis of that project to be in the series creator's mind, that it was then brought to Netflix who developed a system to accommodate the project.

From what I've read I imagine the CYOA conceit leads to the the same kind of tradeoffs relative to more linear storytelling as in the books. The story ends up serving the structure, and the necessity of generating more content leads to a decrease in attention paid to to the stor[y,ies] as a whole. And there's nothing exactly wrong with that, I guess, since many pieces of art are dominated by structure over content. In particular, the interactivity leads to better engagement with the viewer, and may be used to explore concepts such as free will. Or it can allow there creator or viewer to engage in solipsism. Or it can just be a cheap gimmick that gains attention (clicks, hours of user engagement, sales, etc.).

I don't know for sure, but I don't think Bandersnatch drove the Netflix interactivity work, rather vice versa. Charlie Brooker (whose previous work includes reviewing video games and TV shows, both of which underpin aspects of Bandersnatch, not least the name itself) is an obvious choice for Netflix to approach to see if this has wings, because if Brooker can't do anything with it, then it's not going to come off any better in someone else's hands. Also the Black Mirror anthology style means a misstep is easily forgiven / forgotten by fans. If you hate "San Junipero" (you are a weird person and don't deserve love) that doesn't taint "Nosedive" or "White Bear". If you found "Shut Up And Dance" too awful to think about, you can enjoy "Hang The DJ" or "The National Anthem" despite that. If "Bandersnatch" failed it wouldn't change anything else, at worst fans would be annoyed that time was wasted filming for Bandersnatch instead of some other episode.

Netflix had previously landed several less important interactive works in 2018, such as Puss in Boots, before attempting Bandersnatch. And this approach is effective at reducing bootlegging - there aren't existing tools that let "pirates" make an interactive video, so if you want the actual experience you'll be stumping up for Netflix. That means it helps underpin their financials.

Just to be clear: Netflix’s CYOA system existed before Bandersnatch. It was used for Minecraft: Story Mode for example.

Off topic, but it also has a nifty easter egg in it - the Spectrum loading code actually works...


This seems like a good direction to modernize some old types of games that kind of disappeared. Those live action games, like “Night Trap” or the Monkey Island type point and click adventures would benefit a lot from radial/branching stories instead of the more bland spot the difference, visual puzzles, or timing based challenges of the originals.

I just “watched” this the other day and it was my first thought upon seeing this thread.

Definitely apropos for HN

It's probably what prompted posting a year old article to HN.

They did this for an episode of the Shrek spinoff Puss in Boots series, as well.

To me the greatest author of these types of books is Steve Jackson ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Jackson_(British_game_de... ) who worked on the Fighting Fantasy books and the amazing Sorcery series ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Jackson%27s_Sorcery! - HN URL parser breaks on this link - add the ! at the end )

His greatest book IMO was Creature of Havoc ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creature_of_Havoc ) - as a 12 year old I took me and a friend of mine several months to finally complete - it had game elements which made it very hard to cheat.

You can replace the ! with a %21 and the parser will handle it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Jackson%27s_Sorcery%21

Inkle studios did an interesting adaptation for the Sorcery series for mobile. Their games feel a little closer to CYOA than traditional interactive fiction: https://inklestudios.com/sorcery/

They've also open-sourced a markdown format for CYOA games along with a compiler to json and an engine to execute it: https://github.com/inkle/ink

I really like those games, I got all of them and they feel very immersive to play. I would recommend them wholeheartedly.

I agree. I got the first Sorcery game for free when it was available and frankly I didn't imagine me playing it (text only game didn't look good) but after 15 minutes I was completely immersed. I bought the rest of the series and spent weeks replaying them with various choices. For me now they are the best original mobile games I've ever played (and I buy a lot of stuff).

That's exactly my experience as well, I never really play mobile games but Sorcery! had me hooked.

BTW, Sorcery is available for iOS, and it's a great implementation.

>> The simplicity, clarity and imaginative capacity of literature offers something that games, which immerse the player in immaculately-rendered environments, can lack.

Right? No matter how many polygons, what analysis, how many months spent rendering a single tentacle, there will never be a CGI Great Cthulhu that will make me step out of my house in the middle of the night shining a flashlight at the shadows to make sure nothing is hiding there. But good old H.P.'s purple, racist prose did that to me. Or, I guess, my own imagination did.

(I was just small, OK?).

Supposedly, the Monster is never described in detail in Frankenstein precisely because Mary Shelley agreed with you.

This article tries to draw some link between CYOA books and adventure games such as Monkey Island which I don't believe exists at all.

Adventure games, in general, do not have branching narratives of any kind. They use interactive mechanics to amplify/guarantee the thrill of relevation. Apart from this interactive twist, they are very close to normal Detective Fiction (which also tries to deliver similar things through non-interactive mechanics).

I actually really resent CYOA's influence on gaming. This idea of Audience Control being a kind of grand distinguishing feature of gaming as an art form is an absolute cancer.

The actual experience of branching narrative fiction is in my experience, without fail, shit. To the extent Bandersnatch works at all it's due to the meta nature of the story. Can you imagine any other Black Mirror story adapted to this format?

I agree. Oftentimes, branching storyline games tend to be weak in execution.

It ends up being either (1) the same story with 3 slightly different endings or (2) three completely different stories, supposedly linked together.

I think the best executions of this genre try to do something creative with the storylines and tie them together. If Alice does something in storyline A, perhaps when we go down storyline B in the future we’ll realize why Alice did what she did, etc.

Much stronger similarity is found in the "Visual novel" style games, although those are not so popular in the US. That also they have been to some degree influenced by the CYAO book format seems plausible.

I'd say they used to be unpopular in the west, but that's changed. See https://itch.io/games/genre-visual-novel for a sampling of games that are mostly made in the west, as well as Russia and Southeast Asia.

You might enjoy The Stanley Parable game if you haven't tried it already: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=fBtX0S2J32Y there's a free demo and they're working on an "extra deluxe" version now

I actually absolutely adore TSP, and I realise that it has different endings but I feel like it is fundamentally different from "branching narrative" game, although now I think about it I can't quite put my finger on why...

The sort of thing I hate is GTA IV style, Kill X or Kill Y "choice moments". Quantic Dream games are essentially nothing else, it really annoys me when people suggest those games are somehow the most mature and "artistic" games out there, when to me they are basically bad CGI films.

“Choice moments” like you describe here are basically single lane roads becoming two-lane roads. The reason these are so common in gaming are because of the high difficulty of producing true branching. Even the CYOA branded books suffer from this difficulty. However, branching narrative can definitely work. Most collaborative storytelling games (the “not on rails” subclasses of “D&D”) are almost by definition branching narratives. It’s both the social element AND the endless possibility of collaborative storytelling/invention that make those games so successful.

Video games have a higher barrier to accomplishing this feat. Imho simulations like The Sims, CDDA, or Dwarf Fortress are able to accomplish it best.

I thought both Until Dawn and The Wolf Among Us were really enjoyable, although Until Dawn branches a bit less than a first play-through might lead one to believe.

I used to be a great fan, but now I find this format tedious and anything but fun, especially for a completist like me. I'm not going to work my way through all the menus in Bandersnatch to see 5 hours of content just like I'm not going to really read all of a CYOA book.

The format demands something of you, but it gives very little in return (except for accessing new content). But novelty hidden in the thing I bought, when it's locked not behind some clever puzzle but just a wall of time, well, I'm not interested.

Yes to interactive stories (aka "Games"), No to CYOA tedium. The only thing worth doing with these things is reading/watching them through and making a diagram of the branches. Otherwise it's the storytellers job to pick the branches, and to show me a good sequence.

Do you also hate games with branching paths? It's the same in the end. Either you play the branches of the game or you read the branches of the book. Based on your comments you must hate games like Witcher 3 since you can (and do) make choices that choose one branch over another.

I've had some fun writing interactive stories with my kids lately using http://twinery.org/ – it has a very usable interface, though I've been doing all the typing and helping them organize their thoughts and the choices.

Here's an example story written with my four-year-old (with some help from her older sister): https://ianb.github.io/Choose-Your-Own-Adventures/Alphabet-F... – if you've had a four-year-old tell you a story, it makes as much sense as you would expect!

Tell your daughter that the exploding banana caught me. Next time I will not trust the monkeys.

Reminds me of second grade, when I showed my teacher a CYOA book I was reading and she contacted my parents to warn me about it being a bad influence. Apparently some Christian sects expanded the fearmongering about D&D to CYOA, which made it a tool of the devil.

Ah, the days of growing up in the American South!

It works without religion, too. I'm a parent of elementary age kids in California and I've seen both Minecraft and Fortnite completely demonized by people with no religious concern.

I've noticed that in many of these cases, the parent's conclusion is never "my kid needs help and IDK what to do," but rather it's always the object that's _external to the kid and parents_ that's at fault.

This article was written well before the announcement or release of Netflix's "Bandersnatch". While I liked the concept, and probably spent at least an hour with it, I thought it underscored the weaknesses of the genre, when compared to traditional linear narrative, such as how the alternate paths/realities almost necessarily dilutes the themes and characterizations.

In any case, I don't see the need to bring back the CYA book. As video games get more and more book-like, including the "interactive novel" genre, they seem to fill the role better than any CYA book ever could.

This may be unfair, but I tend to not trust the quality of "Choose Your Own Adventure"-style books to be particularly high just because it's hard enough to write a great novel to begin with; throw in a maze of branching possibilities and unless the author is willing to put in vast amounts of effort (even relative to the massive effort already required to write a great novel)—it's likely quality will have to be compromised. (I think the exception may be when the structure of the particular story is somehow related to branching narratives to begin with, e.g. Bandersnatch.)

That said, I did enjoy reading some Choose Your Own Adventure books as a kid and haven't actually revisited them in close to two decades.

Writing interactive fiction has also appealed to me, but I've been discouraged from even trying for the same reasons mentioned in my first paragraph.

The same could be said about Hypertext Fiction in the 15+ years ago time, but that doesn't mean it can't be improved upon (look at cave paintings).

We're still in the silent movie era of internet media and content, where pretty much everybody could (and did) try something, and there were a (relative) zillion releases to prove it. Either by attention or chemistry a lot of it didn't survive, but it eventually built concepts that are still in use today.

You can't argue from cave paintings. Cave paintings are incredible.

If you found an Unfrozen Caveman Painter you'd put him or her to work at a design firm with zero hesitation and arguably it took us until the early 20th century to understand what made cave paintings so powerful.

I’m not sure if the author is actually keeping track of things but CYOA are still popular. I was literally one of the first wave of kids who got the books (I have a first printing, first edition of Cave of Time) and thought it would be fun for my kids to read.

But you can’t find it for less than $6-8 per used book, even on eBay. They are pretty expensive and very popular. Very disappointing from the point of someone who wants to buy them cheap but it’s nice to see that they are still appreciated.


They have reissues for most of them through Chooseco.

They have reissues for the books by R.A. Montgomery through chooseco. The books by Edward Packard are not included. I did a bit of Googling, and found an interview where he explains that it was a trademark thing, where Random House let it lapse, Montgomery snagged it and put his books out under the trademark of 'CYOA', while Packard instead made some into mobile apps under the name U-Ventures: http://www.gradyhendrix.com/edward-packard-interview/

I feel like there is a giant gaping hole of information, which is that visual novel games in Japan are cyoa style stories, and are very popular. The article here has a lot of words, but nothing much to say.

Choose your own adventure books, notably the RL Stein "Give Yourself Goosebumps" variety were the books that swept my imagination away and really lit the spark for reading as a young kid.

There's an art to driving curiosity that I think CYOA books really plays well with. It's accessible by anyone to anyone without the need for technical skills, given all you really need is a basic understanding of free text editors and maybe some mind mapping software to keep structure. We've seen countless CYOA book-style games out within recent years, including "the uncle who works for nintendo"[1], "Buried"[2], and I don't know who could forget "Stories Untold"[3] which to me shows that the art is expandable from the text form up to a more immersive experience. It lends itself to be improved upon, from base story to games, movies, and more.

I would be absolutely thrilled to see a CYOA revival, and if somebody did a kickstarter or indiegogo where they gathered some notable authors to do something a la "Bandersnatch", I'd happily toss some money at it. It's a facet of my childhood I feel wasn't properly respected and I'm glad to see it getting some recognition at last.

[1]: https://ztul.itch.io/the-uncle-who-works-for-nintendo

[2]: https://store.steampowered.com/app/434370

[3]: https://store.steampowered.com/app/558420

Don't forget Ryan North's "To Be or Not To Be: A Chooseable-Path Adventure" and "Romeo and/or Juliet: A Chooseable-Path Adventure".

There is also Julio Cortázar's "Rayuela" book. Which could be read in the traditional order or begin in chapter 37 and at the end it would tell you which other chapter to go. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hopscotch_(Cort%C3%A1zar_nov...

One of the most popular (with children in particular I imagine) Alexa skills[1] is a ‘choose your own adventure’ type interactive storybook.

The parser style of IF lends itself well to the medium, I believe.


Very timely for me. My wife bought a bunch of choose your own adventure books at a antiques store just before Christmas, and she's been engrossed in them since.

I always thought of them as a sort of offline version of Zork.

I recently got into the CYOA world by trying a text based game and an interactive story. I found the story a lot more enjoyable because it provided complex characters and a rich world that would get revealed as the story continued. The text based game was more driven by the player by choosing where to walk and what to look at. It was a puzzle game more than a story.

The story I am reading is an app called "Magium." It is a CYOA with an RPG element. I have really enjoyed it so far as my first CYOA story (it is currently unfinished and is being released chapter by chapter).

I think CYOA books and e-book readers are made for each other.

Sadly, I have not know any push on that direction.

I think they have been revived by one of the original authors [1]. A friend who bought these for his son mentioned these a while back, but said the books are no longer violent. I only remember reading one CYOA, but I think I was burned to death on an electric fence or something. Anyway, something to look into if you care about that.


> “If you decide to fight the squid with your spear gun, hoping to scare it off, turn to page 17,” one book says. “If you decide to signal Maray to pull you up at top speed, knowing you will get the bends, turn to page 19.”

I died to that very squid when I was 11 :-/ :D Though that was already in the 2000s, our school library still had a couple of CYOA that I quite enjoyed.

A couple of years ago I did an experiment to try to mix interactive fiction with a book from the Lone Wolf series (available freely via Project Aon): https://projectaon.org/staff/christian/gamebook.js/

I came here to post a comment about the Lone Wolf books, but this is even better!

I've been working on an text-based interactive storytelling RPG called Danger World[1] for iOS and Android. If anyone in the HN crowd is interested in checking it out, I'm happy to send out beta (alpha?) links.

[1] https://danger.world

If this piqued your interest in playing one, I wrote a modern audio-based CYOA and accompanying app to play it: https://playroadtripadventures.com

It’s great for playing with others while you travel!

It's funny, I think I've only ever opened a handfull of CYOA books and was never really interested in the genre, but I've had more fun with forum-based CYOA games, where one player is writing the story (and doing lots of ass-pull along the way) and the end-of-chapter choice is voted by the forum members. It gets really fun, with the interactivity between the writer and the player.

Or even just playing a CYOA style game (we did with sabres & guns of infinity) like this, we ended getting the worst possible ending short of dying but it was fun.

The thing about 80s nostalgia that's strange to me is that it's lasted so long. It kicked off around 2000 or whenever The Wedding Singer came out, after what seems like a brief flicker of '70s nostalgia, and somehow it just keeps going. I'm looking forward to the '90s coming back around, but it doesn't seem to be on its way yet.

If you like CYOA books, you might also enjoy playing the Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective games[1], which have a similar mechanic.

[1] https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/2511/sherlock-holmes-con...

There's a board game of sorts, that plays like a CYOA:

Legacy of Dragonholt


Works well in groups of 4 or 5, with people taking turns reading from the book.

Web platform designed for interactive storytelling: https://fiction.live

We made one in Facebook messenger; people seemed to like it and it helped us grow our audience.

The author is mentioning ‘Stranger Things’ as being nostalgic for the growing old kids born in the 80s, but last time I checked Steanger Things audience are teens... he got this wrong

Where/how did you check that? I am in my mid-30s and know several people who are my age and a bit older who like Stranger Things.

I don't think real data on Netflix viewership is public, is it? My presumption is Netflix guards that data way too much to share it.

Yeah, from my experience people from their mid-twenties to mid-forties are fans. People outside those ranges don't seem to care much. I'm in my early 40s (I'd have been closest to Will's age I think) and a huge fan of the show.

The best I could find was this:


> According to Nielsen ... each episode of ... season (2) drew more than 4 million viewers per episode, and with more than 3 million of those falling in the key adults 18-49 demographic within the first three days of its release (Oct. 27-29).

The article goes on to quote other statistics (including 15 million + viewers of the first episode). And then:

> “The data that Nielsen is reporting is not accurate, not even close, and does not reflect the viewing of these shows on Netflix,” the company said in a statement at the time of the original announcement.

I'm not certain how Nielsen collects data these days, but in the early aughts, our local Fox station waged a campaign to get younger viewers to participate in Nielsen studies because the data Nielsen had showed no one was watching syndicated episodes of the Simpsons, so advertisers wouldn't pay. (I suspect the advertisers knew people were watching and just wanted a discount.) The campaign seemed to work (and was also the one and only time I was in a Nielsen household).

Since then, I still take Nielsen ratings with a huge grain of salt, so I'm inclined to believe the Netflix statement that we really don't have any idea.

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