Thoughts on Storytelling within video games? [Video]

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#1 Posted by Dafreewurld (111 posts) -

Hi!

I was hoping to instill some discussion on storytelling in videogames, the whole video games as an art medium idea. Sadly it is a video and I politely ask you to please watch it. I really wonder what other people think about it, or if they even think about it at all. I heavily refer to the indie game "To The Moon" as well.

The video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kHHJYpC8aA

Please do not think I am just advertising this video for views. I really want to know what exactly people think about the topic I'm talking about and will gladly take any feedback or discussion on this!

Thank you for reading this!

#2 Posted by Lulekani (2151 posts) -
I didnt watch the video. IMO story telling in video games is absolute garbage, simply because of the timeless conflict between stories and interacting. Good stories are passive, ALWAYS ! Good Interaction is active, ALWAYS ! You can't have both. Nope , To The Moon doesnt count, its too passive to be a video game, and would've made a better movie, or novel than a game.
#3 Posted by AntJR (56 posts) -

I didnt watch the video. IMO story telling in video games is absolute garbage, simply because of the timeless conflict between stories and interacting. Good stories are passive, ALWAYS ! Good Interaction is active, ALWAYS ! You can't have both. Nope , To The Moon doesnt count, its too passive to be a video game, and would've made a better movie, or novel than a game.Lulekani
I disagree. Who says you cant have both, intercation combined with storytelling makes the story even better. Video games and interaction mix very well, and you wouldnt really have any video games with stories if they were never combined.

#5 Posted by wiouds (5612 posts) -

There are good stories in games. All games are base off problem solving. That is were most of the big name games focus. Games can easily be hurt by straying from that most natural state. Most games that try to tell a "deep and though provoking" story, like the one game the tc talk, just are so mindless and boring when I compare it to the though provoking that other games bring out.

There are games that try "deep and though provoking" stories

MGS4 is all about story and forgot the game play. Game wise MGS4 is a stupid. The levels were very basic.

Spec Ops: The Line has a few horrible made story parts that they smear in your face. The best way I can describe these parts are they are the equivalent to booms and boobs in action movies.

There are some that I enjoy the stories to:

I enjoyed FF13 story so much.

I also found Halo 4 and CoD black ops 2 to be stories that took hold of me in much more those games that try to have a deep story.

#6 Posted by Lulekani (2151 posts) -
The Universe says you can't have it both ways, look at it this way, many games have great stories, many games have great gameplay and many games have great stories and gameplay, but no games that allow you to further the plot interactively are good. Most of the time great games you'l find yourself playing just to further the plot, one headshot at a time. Like final fantasy, the story features all these great elements of family values and destiny and love and blah blah blah, but everything, one way or another leads to a battle, you play no role in any other way and if you do its poorly done.
#7 Posted by AntJR (56 posts) -

The Universe says you can't have it both ways, look at it this way, many games have great stories, many games have great gameplay and many games have great stories and gameplay, but no games that allow you to further the plot interactively are good. Most of the time great games you'l find yourself playing just to further the plot, one headshot at a time. Like final fantasy, the story features all these great elements of family values and destiny and love and blah blah blah, but everything, one way or another leads to a battle, you play no role in any other way and if you do its poorly done.Lulekani
The universe doesnt say that.

#8 Posted by MrGeezer (57193 posts) -

[QUOTE="Lulekani"]The Universe says you can't have it both ways, look at it this way, many games have great stories, many games have great gameplay and many games have great stories and gameplay, but no games that allow you to further the plot interactively are good. Most of the time great games you'l find yourself playing just to further the plot, one headshot at a time. Like final fantasy, the story features all these great elements of family values and destiny and love and blah blah blah, but everything, one way or another leads to a battle, you play no role in any other way and if you do its poorly done.AntJR

You're not the universe.

He's got a point though. Interactivity is antithetical to storytelling. Because once you allow the player to interact, you're allowing him to f*** the story up. That's not to say that great stories and great gameplay can't exist simultaneously. But the vast majority of the time, either the story or the interactivity is getting compromised. Either the story is sort of playing second fiddle by making the player focus on gameplay (the illusion of interactivity), or the player's freedom (and ability to REALLY interact with the world) is restricted in order to serve the story. And yes, I'm sure there are exceptions. I'm just commenting on how things usually turn out. Videogame stories generally are pretty poor and shallow, and I don't even think that's necessarily a bad thing. If you've really got an excellent story, then you don't let the audience f*** it up with interactivity. You just tell the story. Games on the other hand are usually mostly about gameplay with some simple story threads there to guide the player, and that's fine. If the story really isn't all that great, then let it sort of take the back seat and put your attention towards just making good gameplay. In any case, I just think developers ought to know what type of game they're making. They can make the story the primary focus if the want to, but then it had better actually be a good damn story.
#9 Posted by ristactionjakso (6118 posts) -

Didn't watch the vid.

But there are few games that have great storytelling. Lost Odyssey comes to mind first. The way some of Kaim's dreams/memories are told make you really feel what he felt. Really puts you in his shoes.

#10 Posted by wiouds (5612 posts) -

I read reviews of Battleship and the most common complaint about the movie is that the main character does not go through character growth. The problem I have with this statement is that the first scene of the movie is a scene saying that some times when you face an adversity you do not grow but instead is show who you truly are. To put simply it is saying that Battleship is not character growth, and many complain about the lack of character growth in the movie.

I think the reason for this is that many were taught to have a check list of what makes a good story. Now there are some that are taking that check list for written stories and try to place it on games which is a different media.

The video is under six minutes.

#11 Posted by Lulekani (2151 posts) -
Heres something Tom Bissel brought to light a few years ago, some of the most compelling moments in video games occured in two games that don't have a plot. Journey and Left 4 Dead, both games are compelling and yet neither has a plot, they have one simple goal, and instead of telling a story they give you a story to tell. Note that how the story unfolds depends on how good you are at shooting zombies in the face, or working co-operatively using gestures instead of words. I hope more games like this come to light more often.
#12 Posted by Ricardomz (2715 posts) -

Video games can tell stories, some even do it better than books or movies.

#13 Posted by Lulekani (2151 posts) -

Video games can tell stories, some even do it better than books or movies.

Ricardomz
No WAY ! No no no nooo ! Impossible. Unless you mean games that are more story than they are game.
#14 Posted by taiwwa (301 posts) -

they can if done right.

I find that video games definitely are more immersive than books since you get to actually see the gamescape just as the creative artist intended, instead of just working off a few words to imagine it.

Video games are pretty lousy at giving you a sense of a character's inner thoughts -- which is the bulk of most books.

But if you're smart, you sorta roleplay yourself in games, so like I'll pretend to be the game character and try to think what he would think.

Games are also good in like the endurance thing, like when you're at the end of a long play session to beat the game it's like 2AM and the final bit of story unfolds. You're tired and so that sort of strips away a part of your psyche and makes you more receptive.

#15 Posted by TrainerCeleste (1633 posts) -

Video games can tell stories, some even do it better than books or movies.

Ricardomz

I used to think this until I started to actually read :P

But most of the games that have great story telling only have minor interactions, and to be honest I prefer those. They allow me to interact with a world and stay interested but still convey an emotional story. Sure with long RPGs you can have a wonderful story, butttttttt running around grinding kind of takes away from that story. Imagine a text reading something like "and then our hero went to slay 1000 cactus monsters in the desert" it makes me disconnect from the story. In games however it's all part of the fun :P so I agree with others when they say you can't have too much gameplay without losing part of the story.

I also think this because video games come with graphics of the areas characters everything. Books let you leave everything up to your imagination, which is the most powerful thing ever :) When I read I always create scenery I enjoy for the story. When I read it is an author's story and ideas but it is a story that plays inside my head in my way, which a game could never do.

#16 Posted by El_Zo1212o (6048 posts) -
[QUOTE="Ricardomz"]

Video games can tell stories, some even do it better than books or movies.

Lulekani
No WAY ! No no no nooo ! Impossible. Unless you mean games that are more story than they are game.

Despite wiouds's claim to the contrary, Spec Ops: The Line is a perfect example of this. I've read fiction in just about every genre imaginable, and nothing has ever approached the horror and disgust I felt at certain points while playing Spec Ops. And I'm not talking superficial feelings like fear or being grossed out by excessive gore, I'm talking about these feelings being evoked by the game and directed toward myself as the protagonist. This is something I've never experienced by reading a book.
#17 Posted by wiouds (5612 posts) -

[QUOTE="Lulekani"][QUOTE="Ricardomz"]

Video games can tell stories, some even do it better than books or movies.

El_Zo1212o

No WAY ! No no no nooo ! Impossible. Unless you mean games that are more story than they are game.

Despite wiouds's claim to the contrary, Spec Ops: The Line is a perfect example of this. I've read fiction in just about every genre imaginable, and nothing has ever approached the horror and disgust I felt at certain points while playing Spec Ops. And I'm not talking superficial feelings like fear or being grossed out by excessive gore, I'm talking about these feelings being evoked by the game and directed toward myself as the protagonist. This is something I've never experienced by reading a book.

At one point I though the game froze because I refused to fire a weapon. When I did press the fire button, I get one of the worse "look at what you did" scene smeared in my face. It took me more out of the story than any book or movie ever had.

#18 Posted by LoG-Sacrament (20397 posts) -
link your video then troll the thread with an alt to stir up hits. a bold gambit indeed.
#19 Posted by Venom_Raptor (6958 posts) -

Storytelling is crucial in games. A game will never be better than "great" unless it has a worthwhile story with fleshed out characters. Bioshock would have been decent without it's masterful story, but with that, it's basically perfect.

#20 Posted by Lulekani (2151 posts) -

Storytelling is crucial in games. A game will never be better than "great" unless it has a worthwhile story with fleshed out characters. Bioshock would have been decent without it's masterful story, but with that, it's basically perfect.

Venom_Raptor
Im glad you brought that up because it just so happen's that these narrative issues first started when Clint Hocking pointed out that letting the player interact with the plot (harvesting or killing little sisters) either hurts the story or hurts the gameplay, and thus "Ludonarrative Dissonance" was born. Don't get me wrong, it was a great game without a great story, but atleast once or twice the immersion gets shattered, briefly.
#21 Posted by Venom_Raptor (6958 posts) -

[QUOTE="Venom_Raptor"]

Storytelling is crucial in games. A game will never be better than "great" unless it has a worthwhile story with fleshed out characters. Bioshock would have been decent without it's masterful story, but with that, it's basically perfect.

Lulekani

Im glad you brought that up because it just so happen's that these narrative issues first started when Clint Hocking pointed out that letting the player interact with the plot (harvesting or killing little sisters) either hurts the story or hurts the gameplay, and thus "Ludonarrative Dissonance" was born. Don't get me wrong, it was a great game without a great story, but atleast once or twice the immersion gets shattered, briefly.

Not for me.

#22 Posted by Lulekani (2151 posts) -
Somebody has low standards. (:-C). Im just joking. Im just tired of traditional story telling methods. (Im actualy sick of story telling all together)
#23 Posted by Venom_Raptor (6958 posts) -

Somebody has low standards. (:-C). Im just joking. Im just tired of traditional story telling methods. (Im actualy sick of story telling all together)Lulekani

So you'd prefer games to not include a plot at all?

#24 Posted by LoG-Sacrament (20397 posts) -

[QUOTE="Lulekani"]Somebody has low standards. (:-C). Im just joking. Im just tired of traditional story telling methods. (Im actualy sick of story telling all together)Venom_Raptor

So you'd prefer games to not include a plot at all?

at risk of taking the bait, i'll say that i'm not the biggest fan of plotting in games. there are some plot twists that i've liked (the one in bioshock is a popular example), but interactivity makes it harder to keep on point for the whole story. i'm more interested in theme and that has much more freedom to play around with. i don't think that's limiting either as the use of theme is a more pure exchange of ideas.

#25 Posted by Lulekani (2151 posts) -

[QUOTE="Lulekani"]Somebody has low standards. (:-C). Im just joking. Im just tired of traditional story telling methods. (Im actualy sick of story telling all together)Venom_Raptor

So you'd prefer games to not include a plot at all?

Thats Exactly what I'm saying, plots can't be changed by game play, you're forever at the mercy of the writers and nothing you do in a video game will interactly resonate with a plot. But even though I think games shouldnt tell stories doesnt mean it shouldnt have them. Like Journey, it doesnt tell a story, it gives you an experience that you yourself can tell a story with.
#26 Posted by Venom_Raptor (6958 posts) -

[QUOTE="Venom_Raptor"]

[QUOTE="Lulekani"]Somebody has low standards. (:-C). Im just joking. Im just tired of traditional story telling methods. (Im actualy sick of story telling all together)Lulekani

So you'd prefer games to not include a plot at all?

Thats Exactly what I'm saying, plots can't be changed by game play, you're forever at the mercy of the writers and nothing you do in a video game will interactly resonate with a plot. But even though I think games shouldnt tell stories doesnt mean it shouldnt have them. Like Journey, it doesnt tell a story, it gives you an experience that you yourself can tell a story with.

I wouldn't be a gamer if the games I play didn't tell a story, regardless of whether they're good or not.

#27 Posted by Lulekani (2151 posts) -

[QUOTE="Lulekani"][QUOTE="Venom_Raptor"]

So you'd prefer games to not include a plot at all?

Venom_Raptor

Thats Exactly what I'm saying, plots can't be changed by game play, you're forever at the mercy of the writers and nothing you do in a video game will interactly resonate with a plot. But even though I think games shouldnt tell stories doesnt mean it shouldnt have them. Like Journey, it doesnt tell a story, it gives you an experience that you yourself can tell a story with.

I wouldn't be a gamer if the games I play didn't tell a story, regardless of whether they're good or not.

let me get this right, you're too lazy to interact with a plot but not lazy enough to just settle for a movie. Playing fast and loose on that fine line arent you ?
#28 Posted by RageQuitter69 (1366 posts) -

Storytelling has becomae a terrible thing for gaming because gamers and game developers have forgotten about GAMEPLAY, you know the thing that makes a game great, if you want a great story go and watch a movie or reed a book.
II dind't watch the video either as I haven't played To The Moon and don't plan to. But storytelling in video games has become a bad thing this generation as developers are putting too much efford into the story and not nearly enough effort into the gameplay, take Mass Effect for an example, the story, characters and universe are all fantastic but the gameplay, in fact anything that even relates to gameplay is lackluster, boring and extremely bare bones, as a movie it's great, but as a game it's lucky to get 5/10. Metal Gear Solid 4 is another great example, I'm not going to like, the gameplay is great, but there is only FOUR HOURS of it and every time you get into it you better go grab your popcorn beause it's time for another long repedititve cutscene and an (not shutdown) online multiplayer mode that takes FOREVER (in fact it takes longer to set up than it takes to finish the single player game when all the cutscenes are skipped) that you have to pay for extra's on, like Mass Effect 2 it would have been better off as a movie than a full priced 'game', because of this it gets 5/10. Heavy Rain, and before anyone says anything, I know that Heavy Rain is not a traditional game but NOTHING, I repeat NOTHING can make things like brushing your teeth or rocking a baby to sleep fun or engaging. There games are where storytelling and gameplay are mixed flawlessly, games like Mafia II and the Uncharted series do this very well but sadly the bad kind of story driven game is popular and common.

#29 Posted by Venom_Raptor (6958 posts) -

[QUOTE="Venom_Raptor"]

[QUOTE="Lulekani"] Thats Exactly what I'm saying, plots can't be changed by game play, you're forever at the mercy of the writers and nothing you do in a video game will interactly resonate with a plot. But even though I think games shouldnt tell stories doesnt mean it shouldnt have them. Like Journey, it doesnt tell a story, it gives you an experience that you yourself can tell a story with.Lulekani

I wouldn't be a gamer if the games I play didn't tell a story, regardless of whether they're good or not.

let me get this right, you're too lazy to interact with a plot but not lazy enough to just settle for a movie. Playing fast and loose on that fine line arent you ?

Whatever man, I'm just glad I don't think like that.

#30 Posted by skrat_01 (33767 posts) -
Did a thesis about this sort of thing and developed a game part of it this year, hopefully going to continue research into a PhD. [QUOTE="Lulekani"]I didnt watch the video. IMO story telling in video games is absolute garbage, simply because of the timeless conflict between stories and interacting. Good stories are passive, ALWAYS ! Good Interaction is active, ALWAYS ! You can't have both. Nope , To The Moon doesnt count, its too passive to be a video game, and would've made a better movie, or novel than a game.

Which isn't true because games challenge our pre-existing notions of story. I've engaged with games that have had compelling enacted stories from gameplay, due to systems working in conjunction - like Dwarf Fortress, or didactic narratives that are highly directed, like Half Life or Shadow of the Colossus. There's nothing that says you can't have both either; there's no definitive cases to say either. Games are young, 3D only rose to prominence roughly 15 years ago. What games are is growing and maturing and actually finding a native language; no different to film and photography in the early 20th century.
#31 Posted by skrat_01 (33767 posts) -

The Universe says you can't have it both ways, look at it this way, many games have great stories, many games have great gameplay and many games have great stories and gameplay, but no games that allow you to further the plot interactively are good. Most of the time great games you'l find yourself playing just to further the plot, one headshot at a time. Like final fantasy, the story features all these great elements of family values and destiny and love and blah blah blah, but everything, one way or another leads to a battle, you play no role in any other way and if you do its poorly done.Lulekani
From Looking Glass games like Thief to System Shock 2, Vampire the Masquerade to Deus Ex and PlaneScape Torment, to That Game Company's work in Flower and Journey or even the smaller experimental stuff like the Radiator series - there's so much already pre-existing examples that prove that wrong.

Unless you mean games that are more story than they are game.Lulekani

Gameplay enacts story in games.
Im glad you brought that up because it just so happen's that these narrative issues first started when Clint Hocking pointed out that letting the player interact with the plot (harvesting or killing little sisters) either hurts the story or hurts the gameplay, and thus "Ludonarrative Dissonance" was born. Don't get me wrong, it was a great game without a great story, but atleast once or twice the immersion gets shattered, briefly.Lulekani
And Bioshock is one single game. Clint Hocking doesn't deride the narrative ambitions of video games, he points out how mechanical interaction and didactic storytelling can be at odds; and he is extremely correct. And low and behold you have games like Spec Ops: The Line which are dirrect commentaries about this dissonance, and the relationship between the voice of mechanics and the written story.

Ludonarrative Dissonance exists in many, many games; and that boils down to games still being largely young in terms of actually having a coherent, matured language as a form of narrative - which isn't to discount the large quantity of games out there whiche excell in narratively.

-

"Lulekani: "like Journey, it doesnt tell a story, it gives you an experience that you yourself can tell a story with."

-

Which is still a form of story. Journey tells an extremely deliberate story; however the lens of interactivity presents one that's exclusive to games.Roadside Picnic is different to Stalker as a story as is Do Androids Dream to Blade Runner; there's a gross difference in language, and each has a very different lens in how it can tell a narrative and construct a sense of story.

Games have their own unique lens; which has been discussed and debated to death at an academic level, and naturally a big part of language defined by that dialogue that is the story that stems from interactivity.

-

Anyway I could talk about this stuff to death, but games are young, and rich in their potential. Which makes them a damn exiting thing when it comes to how our pre existing understanding of story is challenged.

#32 Posted by Lulekani (2151 posts) -

[QUOTE="Lulekani"]From Looking Glass games like Thief to System Shock 2, Vampire the Masquerade to Deus Ex and PlaneScape Torment, to That Game Company's work in Flower and Journey or even the smaller experimental stuff like the Radiator series - there's so much already pre-existing examples that prove that wrong. [QUOTE="Lulekani"]

Unless you mean games that are more story than they are game.skrat_01

Gameplay enacts story in games.
Im glad you brought that up because it just so happen's that these narrative issues first started when Clint Hocking pointed out that letting the player interact with the plot (harvesting or killing little sisters) either hurts the story or hurts the gameplay, and thus "Ludonarrative Dissonance" was born. Don't get me wrong, it was a great game without a great story, but atleast once or twice the immersion gets shattered, briefly.Lulekani
And Bioshock is one single game. Clint Hocking doesn't deride the narrative ambitions of video games, he points out how mechanical interaction and didactic storytelling can be at odds; and he is extremely correct. And low and behold you have games like Spec Ops: The Line which are dirrect commentaries about this dissonance, and the relationship between the voice of mechanics and the written story.

Ludonarrative Dissonance exists in many, many games; and that boils down to games still being largely young in terms of actually having a coherent, matured language as a form of narrative - which isn't to discount the large quantity of games out there whiche excell in narratively.

-

"Lulekani: "like Journey, it doesnt tell a story, it gives you an experience that you yourself can tell a story with."

-

Which is still a form of story. Journey tells an extremely deliberate story; however the lens of interactivity presents one that's exclusive to games.Roadside Picnic is different to Stalker as a story as is Do Androids Dream to Blade Runner; there's a gross difference in language, and each has a very different lens in how it can tell a narrative and construct a sense of story.

Games have their own unique lens; which has been discussed and debated to death at an academic level, and naturally a big part of language defined by that dialogue that is the story that stems from interactivity.

-

Anyway I could talk about this stuff to death, but games are young, and rich in their potential. Which makes them a damn exiting thing when it comes to how our pre existing understanding of story is challenged.

Well Said ! Now lets step down and let Far Cry 3 have its turn under the lime light. Pretty Please
#33 Posted by skrat_01 (33767 posts) -
Well Said ! Now lets step down and let Far Cry 3 have its turn under the lime light. Pretty PleaseLulekani
Couldn't agree more. Even more interesting, I'm curious to know what Clint Hocking thinks of it post Far Cry 2.