The term “choose your own adventure,” despite being used to describe a broad genre of interactive fiction, is actually a trademarked term owned by Chooseco, as some indie game makers are discovering. Reports are suggesting that game makers who use the term to describe their games on popular indie store itch.io are receiving cease and desist notifications.
The site’s creator is warning game makers on Twitter that indie games that use the term, even innocuously, are being targeted for copyright infringment. The game they cite, Purrfect Apawcalypse, refers to itself as “an apocalyptic dog dating choose your own adventure game” on its page.
warning to any devs using the phrase “choose your own adventure” to describe their games, Chooseco is issuing takedown notices to @itchio for trademark infringement. Example game page they went after: pic.twitter.com/YG0JGUoHAA
— leaf @ itch.io 🙌 (@moonscript) December 9, 2019
The game has been removed from itch.io for the time being. It’s not just indie developers getting caught up in this either, with Netflix recently facing a trademark lawsuit after using the term to describe Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. Netflix is alleged to have pursued a license for the “choose your own adventure” branding, but was unsuccessful.
It does not seem that the problem stems from the style of gameplay, but developers, at least for now, are unable to use the specific phrase “choose your own adventure” without permission from the license holder.