Rock, Paper, Shotgun - Maybe Games Just Arenít For Telling Great Stories?
Rock, Paper, Shotgun has a new article examining if games are capable of telling great stories.
The temptation at this point is to get all sneery and superior, looking down on those inferior lot who enjoy manshooters. Two problems. Manshooters are often great, and haughtily refusing to enjoy the good ones is stupid. And what exactly is it we’re holding aloft as an example of storytelling done right?
For years I’ve lamented this, decried the failure of this medium to mature to a point where it can match literature and cinema in terms of intelligence in design. (And to be clearly, yes, most books and movies are terrible – we’re talking about comparing the very best.) When is gaming, I would ask, going to find its great stories? I believe I was wrong to ask.
Gaming isn’t going to. It’s had plenty of time to prove that. And I don’t think it’s necessarily a failure of developers at all. Maybe games just aren’t the right place for it? That’s practical: authors can take years to write their novels – something that wouldn’t be possible in game development cycles. And it’s perhaps pragmatic: the nature of interaction simply prevents great storytelling, and we should all accept this.
This isn’t to say we shouldn’t demand better. It is still right and proper to lament the dreadful writing that appears in so many games, the cavalcades of clichés that plague us, the generic grunting tedium that most creators seem to think will do. But perhaps we should be setting our sights lower, reducing our expectations, and letting games get on with being a medium that simply isn’t going to provide us with wonderful story.