Video Games and Story Telling
I haven’t mentioned this much, maybe a few posts here and there, but I love video games. Like many people in my generation, I have grown up with the video game industry. As it has grown so have I. I started with Mario on the NES, and this week I began playing Battlefield 3 for my PC. That is a lot of growth in a short amount of time.
Just like writing, I don’t have as much time for games as I used to. In life, you have to make time for the things you love to do. So I make time for the games when I can. And, of course, when a new game I love comes out (such as Battlefield 3) I tend to spend a lot of time with it. And, while getting my butt kicked last night, I thought a lot about my uncontested favorite video games: Tomb Raider. It got me thinking about a different aspect of video game evolution. So this morning, I figured I better get this blog out now before I started in on the Battlefield.
Its easy to notice the evolution of graphics, controls, consoles, or even the sheer size of the games. But, story telling has almost become a requirement in the video game world. Take a look at the original Mario Bros., a game that is still great today, but really tells a limited story. Scroll Right and save the princess. The story has since grown, so that even the newest Mario games have a far more detailed story.
But stories have gotten even more important in the over all game play. Characters’ stories are often crafted and even the slightest of changes are contested by the fans. Katie Fleming, the Queen of Tomb Raider Fandom, recently hosted a Youtube video debate on the changes to Lara Croft’s character bio. I mention this because it demonstrates the affect of story telling on today’s games. This was a very passionate debate by loving fans to Lara and the Tomb Raider franchise. There is true love there for the character and her story.
People can now get even more immersed in the game world by an entertaining story, a creative world to be explored, characters you care about, and a protagonist you love to hate. Sounds a bit familiar doesn’t it? The same recipe for a good story has now become the recipe for a good game. Games have become more about being playable stories then just a game. I have spent many nights up late playing one more “level” just to find out what happens next in the story. Just as I have done so many times with the pages of a book.
I think the evolution of gaming in the direction of story telling started early. Almost all games had a story of some sort. But, it has become so important now that even games like Battlefield 3, that are primarily played for their massive multi-player interaction, have ensured they have a story to go with their game. Picking up a gun and shooting other players has no longer become good enough for most of the gamers.
With the development of another Tomb Raider in the works, story telling comes to the forefront again. Almost all the buzz about this game has been about the story: The reinventing of Lara (again) for our playing enjoyment. I have not heard much talk of graphics, moves, or controls. The talk has been about Lara’s new look, the story of Lara’s past, and the world she will be stuck in. The same things I talk about (and look for) in a good book.
In fact, video game characters have made the move into other story telling medium as well. Of course you have movies like Final Fantasy, Tomb Raider, Alone in the Dark, Resident Evil, and Prince of Persia. Tomb Raider had a great run of Comic Books. Some have even made their way into novels. In fact, if the right people are reading this I should note that I would love to write a Tomb Raider Novel (HINT HINT SHAMELESS PLUG).
As a writer you may have considered writing a novel, a comic book, or even a movie. But the world of video games offers another chance for story telling. And, video gamers can be the most fun and challenging group to write for. We love our games, their characters, their worlds, and the story they have to tell.
Now if you will excuse me, I am needed on the Battlefield.