The Philosophy, Art, and Social Influence of games
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J T
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Maybe games just aren't the medium for truly great stories.

by J T Wed Jun 12, 2013 6:23 am

This is an interesting article, if for no other reason than the photos are hilarious:

Rock Paper Shotgun

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The author mentions many of the top notch gaming stories that I would put forward as well. I also see the author as having a fairly good point. As much as I want to believe that games can be great for storytelling, the evidence isn't exactly there yet. There are a few notable examples of games with good writing, but ultimately you're left wondering whether it would have been better from a movie or book.
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BoneSnapDeez
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Re: Maybe games just aren't the medium for truly great stori

by BoneSnapDeez Wed Jun 12, 2013 8:43 am

They aren't.

If I want a great story I will read a book.

Most games that push too hard for a "great story" end up suffering as a result - too many cutscenes, text, etc...
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Re: Maybe games just aren't the medium for truly great stori

by Ack Wed Jun 12, 2013 9:39 am

I think the best stories from games are the ones you create yourself. I have some great stories I can tell you about games I played with friends, within the trappings of each game's world.
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Re: Maybe games just aren't the medium for truly great stori

by Erik_Twice Wed Jun 12, 2013 9:44 am

Haha. I love that picture.

I've said it before: The best narratives are those the player creates while playing. There's a better story to be had in The Republic of Rome or X-COM than in any Final Fantasy title. "Play, don't show".

Most of the time, when a game tries to tell a story what happens is a game spliced into a movie. Catherine is a good example. It's not a game about cheating. It's not a game about relationships but a game about pushing cubes and moving. There might be an emotional resemblance but it's hard to argue that pushing blocks have anything to do with cheating.
Last edited by Erik_Twice on Wed Jun 12, 2013 11:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Maybe games just aren't the medium for truly great stori

by Ghegs Wed Jun 12, 2013 10:02 am

If a game absolutely must have a story, which they usually don't, I'm a strong advocate for the type of storytelling that happened in the original Prince of Persia. There's a short opening cutscene to set the premise and a short ending cutscene to wrap things up, but mostly the story unfolds within the game, while you're playing - the mirror, the mouse, and of course the feeling of being lost and hoping you can make it in time.

If would be a far worse game if there was voice acting and a brooding grimdark prince with black eyeliner.
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Re: Maybe games just aren't the medium for truly great stori

by jfrost Wed Jun 12, 2013 10:08 am

I'm writing an academic article about that.

My point so far has been that games aren't good at telling stories, but they're excellent at making stories. That stems from their own nature and the level of control each player has.

It's really up to the developer to push this advantage or try and tell a story in a medium that's ill suited to that.
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Re: Maybe games just aren't the medium for truly great stori

by jfrost Wed Jun 12, 2013 10:16 am

That being said, games derive a lot of their appeal from their narrative layers.

Months ago, a designer made a Monopoly knockoff called ONOPO, in which he stripped the game of all the narrative aspects and boiled them down to abstract symbols. It turned out that the game wasn't much fun anymore. Most of the fun was in the stories and money handling. When they were replaced by symbols that evoked nothing, the game lost its allure.

Thus, it does seem that most games need at least a minimal narrative structure to make sense to us.

I also think that narratives in games are a fairly new area of study and game designers just don't dominate the technique to make them work reliably. I guess we'll get there.
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Re: Maybe games just aren't the medium for truly great stori

by Luke Wed Jun 12, 2013 10:35 am

My two cents:

Video games are a perfect medium for story telling, but most developers don't focus on story. As frost mentioned, games usually make the story rather than tell it. But you also have games such as Myst which both tell and make a story. Most point and click games focus on story, no?
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Re: Maybe games just aren't the medium for truly great stori

by Cronozilla Wed Jun 12, 2013 1:23 pm

The best stories I've experienced in games were stories that weren't told through dialog and cut scenes, they were stories told through a narrative evident in the environment and actions.

In Portal 2 SPOILERS:
When I realized Chell was Cave and Caroline's daughter ... something that isn't exactly pointed out to you, you have to figure it out ... it was one of the most evoking moments.


That is something that I've rarely even seen in a comic, film, or book. Because it allowed be to find it and experience it and digest it for me. I didn't have someone telling me how I was suppose feel about this or anything like that either. So, I think video games have a great propensity for story telling ... but no one is actually trying yet, they're too busy copying movies.
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Re: Maybe games just aren't the medium for truly great stori

by BogusMeatFactory Wed Jun 12, 2013 1:28 pm

Games can be a great medium for it, but they haven't exactly figured it out yet. There is a balance that needs to be made between gameplay and linear storytelling. A lot of times, a great story can be told in the details of the world. Events that happen, background images and objects that you may not completely pay attention to, but in closer inspection say a lot about what is happening.

Sometimes a story doesn't need to be said with words, it can be said with emotions and really draw those emotions out of you the player.

for instance, in Bastion
The end on making the decision of what to do, save Zulf or not, what to do when the core is replaced etc. left me at odds. When a game can do that, bravo.
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