How Much Does Story Matter: Part I Jan 9, 2012 15:28:32 GMT -5
Post by solidbatman on Jan 9, 2012 15:28:32 GMT -5
A Quick History
I love a good story. Dune, The Lord of the Rings, and To Kill a Mockingbird are among the best pieces of storytelling in my opinion. I love being taken away to another time or place, and living in that world within my mind. So it should come as no surprise that the story in video games can often make or break my experience.
Video games have evolved into a medium for story telling. In the early days, no one cared about why Donkey Kong kidnapped the princess, or why the ghost were trying to stop Pac- Man. Game designers did not have the resources to tell a story, so the story was left up to the gamers imagination. Even then, most gamers did not care about making up their own story. It was all about setting that high score so you could have fun with writing your initials (Poor Allen Simon Smith was impersonated often). But, as home consoles became more powerful, developers began working in stories. While gamers weren't seeing massive epic story lines, they were seeing (or reading game manuals) why they were about to hop, run, and fight there way to the end of the game. Ninja Gaiden had you avenging your father for example.
Then a game came along called Final Fantasy IV (or II depending on who you ask). FF4 told the story of a Dark Knight who must stop an evil sorcerer from capturing powerful crystals to destroy the world. It set a new standard for story telling in the game industry by giving the player back story and a character driven plot. The gamer was supposed to feel connected to these characters and their triumphs and failures.
Ok, there were a few hiccups
Storytelling, especially in RPGs, would continue to grow. Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy VI, Earthbound, and A Link to the Past all had critically acclaimed stories. With the next generation of systems, the PSOne, and the N64, storytelling kept advancing. Once again, the Final Fantasy series led the charge with Final Fantasy VII. Games like Xenogears pushed the envelope on what was acceptable in video game story lines.
Good luck with that buddy
A slew of epic stories made their way to the PSOne along with FF7 and Xenogears. Parasite Eve grew a cult following, and Vagrant Story is lauded for it's deep story line. Games with great stories were getting great reviews consistently. Perhaps it was the newness of stories in games that caused that to happen. With the release of the PS2, Xbox, and Gamecube, story was an essential factor when it came to reviewing or picking a game to play. FPS games tried to build a connection between the gamer and the character, RPGs became more and more complex with their stories, and even puzzle games gave the gamer some sort of story ie. Ico. Even today, some of the games with the most carnage, like Gears of War and Resistance 3, try to build a character driven story. While it doesn't always work out that well, developers acknowledge that the story is a key in making a video game.
"You have all these characters and subplots going on. If you go back to BioShock, there is the story about how all the ice formed after they had problems with the heating, then there is also a smuggling story, and the story of Sander Cohen and the other artists, and the rivalry they had. These are all basically short stories that are captured in a novel, and they come together and unite as a whole. It's these micro-stories, such as the woman talking to her dead baby in the pram, and all those little Splicer moments. It's all those micro-stories in the main story.
-Ken Levine on Bioshock
Part II Coming Soon