Every now and then I end up in a discussion about storytelling, which shouldn’t come as a surprise, since I’m an avid reader and writer. What I really find fascinating is how people always seem to consider books and movies, or series to be the only media to consume a good story. I always like to add video games to the mix, because I think a lot of people overlook video games as a great medium to enjoy a good story.
A lot can be learned from videogames, but that’s something I’ll discuss another time. What really intrigues me is, that a lot of people don’t see videogames as a medium to enjoy a good, deep story. While I, as a video game geek, enjoyed some of the best stories by playing a video game.
You are the protagonist
One of the best things about playing story driven video games is that you are in control of the story’s protagonist. There is a certain responsibility there for the player to take good care of the story’s hero (or anti-hero) and make sure that the story unfolds as you play the game. This can’t be done in movies or a book. Everything is laid out before you in those two media and all you can do is watch, or read as the story progresses in a linear manner.
Although in the past and present there are still loads of games that keep you on a track to keep the story going, we’ve also gained quite a bit of freedom over the years. Most games feature tons of side missions, or quests, or allow you to roam a huge open world for you to explore. Deep games offer quite a bit of lore if you’re willing to look for it as well and some stories even have several different endings. Making you want to play the game over and over to know each and every one.
Development of technology
Video games are arguably one of the newest ways people can enjoy a good story. The first text based adventures like Zork used to be nothing more than an interactive book that only interpreted typed commands to progress the story onward and tell the player what he was experiencing. Later, as technology developed and graphics improved Sierra introduced us to the wonderful world of their Quest games. And although the graphics were far from phenomenal, these games still hold a very special place in my heart. Especially because I learned most from my English from them, but also because they had great stories!
Nowadays, computer graphics are reaching photo-realistic graphics and games have started to look more and more like Hollywood films. This translates into a much bigger sense of immersion into the game world and sometimes makes me feel like I’m really part of the story. One of my favourite video game series is Mass Effect, which is probably because I’m a huge sci-fi geek, but mostly because it has a great story (even the ending, after Bioware fixed it).
I know a lot of people still might not be convinced that video games are a good way to experience a story, but if you have ever read a book, or seen a movie that you really enjoyed, wouldn’t you want to actually play the protagonist and see how you would do things? Video games are far from passive, they engage you to take action, think and respond to certain situations. And in some cases, they might actually teach you a thing or two. I know I have learned a few things from them.
Depending on your level of skill, there’s quite a few good options to enjoy a good story in a video game. The best thing is that most of them allow you to choose the game’s difficulty nowadays, so beginners can enjoy the story more.
What story driven video game did you enjoy playing the most?