HomeNEW RELEASEDHow do Games Tell a Story?

How do Games Tell a Story?


Tales drive video games. It offers the participant a goal, course, and one thing to do within the sport. Each sport, regardless of how easy, has a narrative. Even video games like Counter-Strike: World Offensive or Sweet Crush Saga has one. Some video games current it subtly whereas others are extra apparent about it.

Telling Tales

As many tales as there are, there as nearly as some ways to inform them. Historically, tales had been handed down by way of recitation. One technology tells their tales to the subsequent, and so forth and so forth. This created issues, because the ‘Move the Message’ occasion sport can attest. The tales acquired corrupted over time and adjusted because of this.

So individuals began writing them down. It’s much less corruptible, however the materials the story is written on can degrade, so if it isn’t taken care of, it could actually nonetheless be misplaced. Relying in your interpretation, painters and footage may also inform a narrative.

The development of expertise let it transfer on to digital encoding, although that also has its issues. It additionally permits individuals to discover a complete new avenue of storytelling, which is thru video video games. It lets the ‘listener’ work together with the story’s characters or generally has them affect outcomes.

There have been books that do that, the Select Your Personal Journey books. Tabletop gaming like Dungeons and Dragons additionally permits gamers to do that, however gamers must do the imagining. With video video games, they don’t must think about something.

With the flexibleness of video video games, extra storytelling strategies might be explored, and listed below are the commonest ones.

Direct Exposition

That is probably the most fundamental technique of storytelling in video video games. A narrator, the inner monologue of the participant character, or character dialogue delivers the story to the participant. Any story-focused sport makes use of this technique.

It’s been round because the inception of video video games, although it may very well be as a result of video games had been primarily text-based within the early years. When graphics grew to become extra widespread, other forms of strategies grew to become an thought.

Direct exposition might be delivered by way of textual content, dialogue, or each, relying on the sport’s style and the developer’s goal and intent. You’ll see this technique within the majority of video games. Normally, the story is nestled throughout the ‘predominant quest’ in RPGs. In linear video games, following the prompting of the narration is sufficient. This generally ends in one thing like an ‘interactive film’ just like the Uncharted sequence.

A greater illustration of this storytelling is something made by Telltale Video games and Detroit Turn out to be Human. It provides one other layer as a result of the participant can affect how occasions prove. Their actions or inactions end in completely different outcomes for the story. Different related video games are Till Daybreak and, extra not too long ago, The Quarry.

RPGs additionally use this technique, however normally, they’re much less about actions and extra about making choices. Until the sport offers the participant a transparent option to do nothing, they at all times must determine to do one thing or one other.

Environmental Storytelling

That is the subtler manner of delivering a narrative. Some examples of this are Gone Dwelling and What Stays of Edith Finch. Within the former, you management a woman who returns dwelling solely to search out her household gone. She (otherwise you by way of her) should go round the home to search out clues about what occurred to them.

With the participant character mainly alone within the sport, there’s nobody to speak to, and there’s no inside monologue to learn or take heed to. The entire sport is you choosing up objects to examine and piecing collectively the occasions that left the home deserted.

There may be some exposition in letters or notes left behind, however that doesn’t give as a lot element as the sport straight exhibiting or explaining what occurred does. This ends in gamers having a basic interpretation of the occasions. Nevertheless, some context might be missed should you don’t discover particular objects.

What Stays of Edith Finch is far of the identical, although it has some expositional elements as a result of framing of the sport. Edith narrates her journey by way of the ancestral Finch home. As talked about above, particulars might be missed should you don’t examine or have a look at specific objects. Nonetheless, even when she isn’t narrating, trying round can provide clues to the Finch members of the family’ personalities.

The tactic isn’t generally carried out alone like within the first instance above. WRoEF’s fashion is extra widespread, the place there may be exposition, however further particulars are added should you go searching. Open-world video games may also do that by leaving objects or arranging them to recommend how issues occurred.

A non-specific instance is stumbling throughout a cabin. You go in, and it’s deserted and uncared for. Going upstairs to the primary bed room reveals a corpse. Now, relying on how the corpse is organized, you may infer the way it died. If the devs lefts syringes close by, then it’s an overdose. Blood splatters indicate the sufferer was murdered. It’s these little particulars that give tales slightly extra depth.

Some video games inform tales by way of merchandise descriptions. It’s nonetheless part of environmental storytelling as a result of the place you discover the merchandise might be vital. Darkish Souls is chock stuffed with this, and so is the Silent Hill franchise. Most video games use this technique, which is clear if you’re keen to go searching and take within the sights.

A extra superior technique for merchandise description is description evolution. The participant’s actions within the sport can change how the merchandise behaves or seems to be. In flip, how the participant character or narration observes it additionally adapts. It’s one thing you’d probably miss should you don’t cease and have a look at your stock on occasion.

Tales Informed By way of Exterior Media

Normally, that is carried out for bonus materials, reminiscent of brief tales that act as an epilogue to the sport’s storyline. Nevertheless, some video games use exterior media to ship the sport’s story. A type of is Overwatch. Blizzard makes use of trailers, movies, comics, and different media to current the background of the setting and the primary characters’ tales.

It is smart, although, as a result of the gameplay doesn’t have house for direct exposition. You will discover some items of environmental storytelling, however these give too little element to inform a whole story. The sport might be loved with out figuring out why the characters struggle or what they’re preventing for, however you will get a deeper sense of appreciation should you do.

Valve’s Workforce Fortress 2 employs the same technique to inform the sport’s story. Comics, movies, and hidden hyperlinks within the replace pages of the web site all contribute to this. These two video games have nearly the identical gameplay, too. CSGO employs the identical technique.

A Extra Highly effective Method of Storytelling

All these strategies give video games the flexibility to ship highly effective messages meaningfully. Although some individuals nonetheless assume they make individuals extra violent, many sport builders need to convey a significant message.

It’s extra evident in unbiased builders. Large-name publishers care extra concerning the enterprise facet, making the sport a glorified advert for microtransactions. Any message the developer desires to convey turns into overshadowed by the fixed notices to ‘purchase, purchase, purchase.’

In distinction, indie devs have extra freedom of expression to give attention to getting their message throughout. Have a look at Undertale or, extra not too long ago, Omori. I do know they’re on completely different ends of the spectrum (relying on which route), however these video games use storytelling strategies to ship their messages very effectively.

Many gamers are inclined to skip the plot for the motion, and that’s legitimate. Nevertheless, figuring out the story will enhance the appreciation of the sport. I don’t imply you need to obsessively examine each nook and cranny for plot tidbits. Simply be extra observant of doable tales the setting could inform you. Take heed to the NPCs and browse slightly between the strains. You may discover the sport to be even higher then!

Hope this helps in rising your appreciation and pleasure of video video games!



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