Stop Sidelining Storytelling (Repost)

A non-insignificant portion of the video game industry considers storytelling in games unimportant.

This includes not just video game fans, but many developers as well. Some very high-profile, like Shigeru Miyamoto. To them, stories in video games are little more than distractions, which serve to keep the player away from the gameplay. This mindset is harmful.

Bad storytelling can bring a game down, there’s no doubt about it. But that doesn’t mean that storytelling in games is a bad thing, and it also doesn’t mean that stopping the player to deliver the story is a bad thing. Some games have done this incredibly well, and some games are made far better for having a story.

One recent example would be Wolfenstein: The New Order. When trailers for that game first started coming out, expectations for it were at an all-time low. People thought that trying to tell a dramatic story in a Wolfenstein game, a series known for being incredibly silly and nonsensical, would be a horrible failure.

And yet people loved it. They began to genuinely care about the characters, about the story, about the setting, and were drawn in by the cutscenes. For many, the story was more enjoyable than the gameplay. And that’s not a knock against the gameplay, so much as a sign of how good the story was.

And there are plenty of examples of games with amazing and interesting stories. Examples include games like Ghost Trick or Hotel Dusk, where the story twists and weaves many times over the course of the game before tying everything together into a perfect little package.

Does every game need an amazing story? Not really. But there are many games which feel less interesting without them. It doesn’t have to be a massive, immersive story. But simply having something to keep the player interested and to keep the action moving forward is better than nothing at all. To suggest that games would be better without stories is both regressive and harmful to the industry’s development and ability to mature.

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