Game developers everywhere have adopted a variety of different approaches to unveiling their worlds, characters, and lore, but there is fundamentally one major difference between games and other forms of storytelling. Namely, you are the protagonist.
Films help to visualise the characters, and books can help to integrate into the minds of the characters, but games give full control at the captain’s chair. The thoughts, speech and interactions are entirely down to player choice.
Not all game developers give the same level of detail or attention to their stories, but the stories that stand out hold a dear place in the hearts of fans of all ages and creed, and truly they deserve to be acknowledged for doing so.
Approaches to Storytelling
Player-tailored games take the ability to put players behind the wheel of the game’s story to another level by letting them choose just how the story will end. Chief titles amongst this genre include the Telltale Games titles, such as The Wolf Among Us and The Walking Dead, as well as titles such as the Mass Effect trilogy and Life Is Strange.
The choices that the player makes influences how characters will react to and treat them as the story unfolds. Choosing to take one character’s side over another may result in a betrayal from another character. Choosing to align with one faction may result in the rise of an empire or the fall of a democratic ruler.
A Narrative Plot
It is not always necessary to plan out different possibilities and structure of a video game to tell a good story. There are a large number of games that utilise what might be called the classic narrative structure exceptionally well. Where these games make use of a variety of elements such as cut-scenes, dialogue and text to effectively tell the story.
Great examples of this are the much loved titles The Last of Us and the Bioshock trilogy. The Bioshock trilogy crafts a skillfully told and unfathomed spellbinding story that toys with the notion of time travel and alternate universes. While The Last of US tells the engrossing story, set in a post-apocalyptic world, in which survivors Joel and Ellie must work together on their journey westward across what remains of the United States to possibly find a cure for the modern fungal plague that has decimated the entire human race.
The developers clearly understood the importance of writing about undying characters, great themes and good twists to elevate their games from greatness to a cult-classic that would be spoken about for decades to come.