Hello, it’s me, Anna! Today I will share my opinions on storytelling in games!

When I was a child, videogames were a rarity. To even own a console was something that maybe one kid in your class owned. We’ve just received our first computer in school when the NES was released. Thinking back, I could never imagine for us to be able to play games on a portable device. The graphics are even better. To understand what we had to put up with back then, just look at an old Zelda commercial with “Superior graphics!”.

We’ve also gotten spoiled I believe. Back in the day, fewer titles were released. We now have an arsenal of different games released daily.

You know, when you get too much, you lose interest. That feeling is hard to explain, but I am sure you’ve experienced it. For instance, I usually buy my movies and when I do, I watch them because I spent good money on said movie. I cannot afford to buy one every week, or even every month. Nowadays I have access to any movie I’d like to watch, because of that I have them running in the background instead of paying attention to the movie. I think there is something in the human nature that when we have access to everything, we lose interest. What I am saying is that back in the day, when a new game was released it became the happening of the year. Now when we have access to so many games, publishers and creators need to find other ways to compete.

Amazing graphics!

This is when a good marketing campaign and hype can fix anything. What sells today, it seems, is graphics. I can be old Grandmother Anna and tell you that back in the day, graphics were not as sophisticated, Well duh, that goes without saying! But there was something that made me pay attention without any loss of interest. I think it was the story.

I like to believe that the story of a game is its heart. Its living essence. It’s easy to make a beautiful game, get the hype machine going and convince the consumers that they’ve bought the best game in the world. I believe you’ve seen this. I’ve seen this and I still do.

How many times didn’t I bring home a game and think “Wow, this has such great reviews and high scores, this is bound to entertain me for months to come”, only to discover that it was all looks and no content. Maybe developers get away with this because they want us to buy more games, rather then one quality game once in a while. Games are not cheap. This is why we now have a thriving mobile market. For a few dollars and sometimes for free, you can get an amazing game.  I think that the only way for the console/PC market to compete, is to focus on the story. Making more focused games. If you create a game with too much freedom, a sandbox game, you risk making people move away from the story to just do a bunch of side quests. However, if you feel the story is too linear, you’ll lose the illusion of “freedom”.

So, to say that everything in moderation is the key. The Elder scrolls series is a good testimony to open sandbox, but with so many options, I tend to lose interest. Then we have the online based games. My personal feelings on those type of games is that if it doesn’t have a decent single player, then it’s not a game I’d buy. Mind you I’ve spent my share time playing online games, but people can be tiresome and at times I love to relax without the stress of teamwork or battle other plays only to find out that “everyone had sex with my mom”.

Single player is where the story part becomes important. The graphics can be dull but as long as you tell a compelling story; your game can be great!

Take Final Fantasy VII. Play it today, the graphics are really not what they used to be, but that vanishes because of the mind blowing story that is being told. Or a more recent one, Portal! Now I think most of us can agree that it is a great game. Why? We’ll because of its entertainment value. That it’s written in a witty manner, captivating story and an amazing adventure. Portal 2 was no exception.

I think that developers do not need an amazing graphics person, or an over the top quality programmer. What it needs is an amazing creative writer. I think the market will be looking more and more for those type of people. It’s a theory of mine anyway. Because there are already a lot of the other types of creators.

Personally, I hope that more and more studios hire professional creative writers who can bring out the best parts of any story and deliver a slice of magic to players!

That’s my thoughts on the matter anyway.

‘Till next time!

- Anna