I enjoy reading almost as much as I love playing video games; its been something I’ve loved to do since I was young. One quality that I like to share in both the books I read and games I play is a good story. Recently, I’ve noticed however, that I’m reaching for my PS4 controller more than that unfinished book of mine. Why? Because the stories are just as good. After coming to this conclusion, I realized that video games shouldn’t be discredited as a story telling platform. Some of the best stories I’ve ever come across have been in video games.
The bad. Let’s take a modern title, The Order 1886, which was released in February, received some negative reviews stating that there wasn’t enough gameplay. Forbes Magazine Contributor Paul Tassi stated that the “game’s relentless pursuit of the “cinematic experience” was its downfall. It felt less like a game and more like an interactive movie. But that is an example of how storytelling in games is sometimes still flawed.
The good. A wonderful example of “cinematic” video game storytelling that works would be the Naughty Dog Uncharted series and The Last of Us. Both of these titles have rich storylines and characters that jump off the screen and feel real. Along with the vivid characters, the storyline is phenomenal, feeling reminiscent of something you would see in a book or movie, rather then a video game.
The amount of time that video game developers put into creating titles is mind boggling. Hours are spent on one cutscene, the character’s hair, and of course, the lore and storyline. Some video games like Bioware’s Mass Effect and Dragon Age as well as Bethesda’s Skyrim and Fallout have backstories as rich as something you’d find in a novel. Entire books and mythology written and compressed in a massive game scatter the world, immersing the player in an entirely new universe unlike our own.
The changing landscape. Also, books are slowly making their way and merging into the video game world. The Witcher series is based off of the book series of the same name by Polish Author Andrzej Sapkowski. Recently, Author Tom Clancy has given the rights to some of his works to be made into video games. The upcoming The Division, Rainbow Six Siege and Ghost Recon titles are all based off of his books.
It is my belief that this trend of creating video games with diverse and enriched stories will not fade away in the upcoming years. Just like authors have never stopped writing, and movie makers never ran out of original ideas for the next big film, video game developers will never stop making video games with beautiful storylines. One thing I hope to see in the future, however, is video game stories being taken a little more seriously, perhaps even discussed alongside novels and films in classrooms. Because just as classic movies and novels have impacted my life, so have video game titles.