In the world of Interactive fiction you can make choices, these choices decide how far you get into the story. Games like colossal cave adventure are a text adventure, you type in where you want to go and you go there. You make decisions to pick certain things up, you can even kill a bird in the cave but that effects your outcome undoubtedly. Games like Skyrim follow a similar construct.
Instead of typing where you want to go you move a joystick, people ask you questions and you make decisions about which quests to undertake. The game follows no set path just like a text adventure, often in text adventures there is more than one way to reach your end goal. A game like Skyrim is set up the same way, you make a choice of who you are, what clans you join, where you go in the world and how your story ends. Of course dying in a game like Skyrim does not carry the same consequences as dying in a text adventure. When you die in a text adventure you usually have to start all over. When you die in a game like Skyrim you just start from the last checkpoint or the last save point. Perhaps if video games were set up with more drastic consequences when you die people you start playing more conservatively. Role playing games or RPGs as a gamer would say allow the user to take on the role of their character. The user can go as far to choose what their character looks like, with seemingly little limitations.
I used to play a game called Way of the Samurai, in which a series of questions would be asked by character you forcefully ran into at the beginning of the game. You usually have up to three choices to choose from as your answer. The three choices represent who you will turn out to be a good character, an evil character or an independent working for both sides of the spectrum. This game was incredible. It basically becomes three games in one. There are three paths you can take each ripe with different decisions and outcomes to those decisions. Interactive fiction and text adventures paved the way for an incredible interactive experience. Instead of looking at words now you have a movie to go along with the words, a movie that you decide the plot. (to an extent of course)