Sunday, 6 December 2009

Storytelling in Games

Within the world of computer games, story lines came about after the introduction of home consoles. Before, video games were arcade and could not really introduce a storyline because gamers would be only there for a short while. Now games can have vast, expansive stories full of imaginative characters and twists. But does a strong story line make a better game?

This comes down to the genre, sports and racing games don’t tend to have plot lines, with the exception of games like Need for Speed, a racer with a very vague plot line. These games are much more reminiscent of the arcade classics and do not need a storyline to be entertaining and enjoyable.

Adventure and role playing games are the most likely to hold a good story line because that’s what the whole sales perspective is about, like a film or book, they feature a hero and the story of which you follow till the end. The idea that you are writing the story as you play is what makes games different from other forms of visual entertainment, where as in a film you watch the plot unfold, in a game you act it with consequences. Games now like Mass Effect are starting to incorporate your consequences into the plot line and change the story as you play, ultimately changing the whole story and possible outcome of the game. These kind of games really immerse the player presenting him or her with real questions that could inevitably change the course of the game. Bad responses can cause ‘would be’ friends to now hate you and visa versa.

I would not say all games have a story, but some games with no initial or primary plot line can evolve with the player, and the player finds themselves creating a story based around them. World of Warcraft is a Massive Multiplaying Online Role Playing Game where the player creates a hero who rises from the small villages and becomes a mighty warrior. This to imaginative and inventive players will become a story that they act out as they play even though the game its self is not directly informing so. So yes, you could say in a very lose sense, all games have a story, whether it be created in the minds of the player or laid out in a beautiful visual cinematic.

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