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February 22, 2011



I think you're missing the point of what Wright is saying here (and if I'm wrong enlighten me). I don't think the argument here is so much that a game cannot tell a story, but rather that it is a mistake to think a game can tell a story in the same way that a film can. I think its the wrong approach to assess a game's ability to craft a narrative by sharply contrasting it with its counterpart in cinema. I think its the wrong approach to think of a game design in cinematic terms (outside of some stylistic or ironic homage.) These are completely different mediums capable of completely different types of storytelling.
Yes, I would agree, there have been games I have played with interesting but still mostly fixed narrative structures. But my concern with games approaching story in this way (that is, more like a film) is that you're neglecting a crucial, inherent component of this artform, interactivity. Interactivity, after all, is what sets games apart as a medium. The truly great designers, Wright I believe being one of them, are able to harmoniously fuse story and interaction, without either one being stepped on by the other or, as more often is the case, neglected.
Acknowledging the potentiality of story, as Wright suggests, and not trying to force the player into a confining, unshapeable narrative structure, is, I believe, the way to a game which more fully realizes its own potential.


I agree with deselby.

In a way, you said it best yourself; "I have often muttered the words "I wish I was a movie director," after a scoping meeting."

The problem with current-day games is that the narrative they are telling is told through the means of taking the player out of the game and putting the player into a movie. Even if the movies in question are generally very short. Even quicktime events during cutscenes do nothing more than adding a "pay attention to me or else..." feeling. The quicktime events are an even stranger beast now that I think of it; they might even have the opposite effect than the reason they were introduced in the first place.

Take Uncharted for instance. Take out all the non-interactive cutscenes and all you are left with is a third person shooter that may have some more charm than the other shooters, but is still a farcry from a true narrative experience.

There is nothing inherently wrong with cutscenes of course, since gamers do not seem to mind. But when it comes to interactivity, cutscenes are not compatible with a game. However, if you want to add narrative to a game in a way that is befitting of the game, you get a different problem; the time as it runs in a game makes it hard to tell a story. Since players move forward in realtime, you cannot use any of the techniques that other narrative media have created (timeskips, flashbacks, time running at different speeds, and so on). This makes true interactive narrative in games very limited as you will quickly end up with a setup not unlike our own lives; a series of choices. Story possibilities.

If you approach narrative in games with the intent of fusing it with games, than Wright is not all that wrong.


Take a step back. Pretty sure he's saying that telling a single story is probably better serves in a medium other than a video game. I agree with that. Games are better served as a vector for story possibilities; they are a fantastic medium for interactive, mutable stories. Think of a recent game, like Dragon Age: Origins. Part of the enjoyment wasn't playing through to the end (I can't even really remember the main plot), but the myriad of smaller story arcs, side quests, etc.


I don't think you can tell deeply-affecting and serious stories in video games. Not like movies and plays and other dramatic arts. For one thing, a video game is asking a player to make choices which affect the outcome of things, but in a story you only have one outcome, which is the meaning of what happened. If Romeo and Juliet don't necessarily die at the end, it's no longer as meaningful.

I prefer a game to just have a "save the world" type plot where some bad guy is taking over the world and you have to stop him and then it drops you into the game. I don't really get why games try to have stories.

I know there's always been adventure games and RPGs, but those don't usually require dexterity. The ones that do require dexterity tend to have less story.

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