The gaming culture is no longer considered as an alternative to big-budget film and best-selling books for their narrative value. Crafting engaging complex entities out of video games has become something of an art form these days. However, there’s one thing we tend to overlook when it comes to this digital channel-its unique way of storytelling.
The gaming industry has evolved a lot in the past few years, transferring every core aspect and niche market in the online space. Traditional board games and consoles have been gamified with the help of the latest tech tools. Traditional games like monopoly, chess and even bingo have redefined their gameplay and experience, with a purpose to get closer to a new audience. For example, online sites like Bingo Scanner list popular bingo game providers, differing one from another in terms of the bingo theme, design, bonuses and in-game rules.
Games deliver stories in various ways, and if you’re not paying attention, you’ll miss the message entirely. Through the slow and prearranged pacing of point-and-click adventure games, as players, we learn to use context hints in the environment we’re allowed to inspect, rather than relying on dialogue and forced scenes.
For example, in a game like Mass Effect, you can experience the results of making a mistake and angering your squad member. Similarly, the ability to choose who you include when you go on virtual tours and expeditions is an important step forward when it comes to storytelling. Writers and designers must consider new imposed variables which are a challenge only unique to video games, because of the medium’s interactive nature.
Of course, console and PC titles shouldn’t be considered as the sole source of storytelling. Titles for iOS and Android devices have mastered the art of the thriller with games that challenge the perception of what great stories are.
The art of storytelling, however, didn’t just happen spontaneously and out of nowhere. It was a slow build over nearly two decades of development and experimentation. Through the 80s, video games were just intended to be a pastime. Throughout the early, to mid-90s this began to change, as games began incorporating whole dialogue stories. The beauty of the early story-based, single-player games was the ability of the player to step into the world of the game. The roleplaying games had touched one of video game storytelling’s most unique aspects: The ability to give players a sense that their actions matter to the moral of the story. So, without further ado, which things are considered as the most important when developing a game narrative?
First and arguably the most important ones are the characters, especially your role throughout the adventure. Characters that players can relate to are the ones that show human and complex features. Unless they have a backstory, strengths, weaknesses and unique traits, the game will feel fake and pointless. When building a character, narrators start by setting on an idea of where they come from. Were they born to the king of a powerful kingdom, or an outsider looking for justice? From there, they work on their physical and mental traits, skills and how they will behave.
Next up is deciding in which period of time will the game evolve – past, future or fantasy. This is very important to the story since it will determine the setup. Sometimes this step might feel a bit overwhelming for designers, however, it’s a good idea to separate them in different pieces and try to put them together. For example, after deciding on the timeline and setting, think about venues, buildings and surrounding. Are there nations or kingdoms present? Think about technologies and tools that exist in that time that will help you to come up with cool story events. Building a proper timeline is essential for character development and gaming scenario.
Every good story, whether it comes from a book, film or a game pushes a continuous action. Without it, the characters would have nothing to fight for, and they’ll have no need for development. If the action is not interesting and engaging, players will have a hard time to keep track of the timeline and simply, won’t be attracted to it.
With games becoming more involving in interactive storytelling, a lot of questions get raised. One such that is constantly debated is whether video games represent an art? Although many argue against that fact, many games have stories as good or even better than movie and lines between them have been blurred. Another question that comes from the previous one is whether an interactive movie is actually a game? Remember Netflix’s Black Mirror: Bandersnatch? This episode is focused on the viewer interacting with the story, which makes it a sort of an interactive video game. As time passes, the process of gaming is getting even more sophisticated and much more diverse in terms of influences, stories and themes. All it takes is to keep an open mind about the possibilities of the medium and apply for the most entertaining and thought-provoking works.