The role-playing adventure books sold 20m copies in the 80s, before being eclipsed by video games. Now they’re back with a new story by Charlie Higson, can they captivate the web generation?
Ian Livingstone calls it the “five-fingered bookmark”: that grip known to children of the 80s and 90s. You’d insert a finger into various sections of your Fighting Fantasy adventure game book in order to be able to return if, say, your choice to drink the “sparkling red liquid” and turn to section 98 turned out to be a bad one, or if attacking the Mirror Demon “from another dimensional plane” proved fatal.
“You used to see it on public transport everywhere,” says Livingstone, who with Steve Jackson dreamed up Fighting Fantasy back in the early 80s. “It’s like peeking around the corner. You can’t call it cheating – it’s taking a sneak peek.”