I love storytelling, and one of the things I love most about it is that a story can be told in a variety of ways, some more engaging than others. My students have been reading the Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf, and what I love about that story is that even if the delivery of it (long narrative poem) isn’t the most engaging, at least in today’s culture, the story itself is actually quite interesting. It could make a great novel or a movie (several movies have been made of it).
In thinking about engaging ways to tell a story, one of my primary interests over the past several months has been the storytelling medium of video games. Video games are unique in their ability to tell a story, and here’s why.
Writers and Players Share Co-authorship
Video game writer, or the person who develops the story of a video game, is becoming more of a distinct role in the video game development industry. Players have long realized the potential of video games to tell a great story, and what’s great about it is the role of player choice in the story of the game.
Now, the level of player choice depends on the game, and the level of player choice that a game can allow is continually evolving. But video games are unique in that they are like movies, except that you interact with them through a game controller.
Some games give you significant choice, such as Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture and Until Dawn. Other games like the classic Final Fantasy VII and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare let the player journey through a pre-planned narrative in which there isn’t a significant amount of choice, but you get to decide whether you continue with the story or not.
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How to Learn More About Video Game Writing
Keith Giglio and Robert Denton Bryant recently wrote the book on video game writing, and it’s the best of its kind, and I’ve read nearly all of them. It’s called Slay the Dragon: Writing Great Video Games.