Storytelling school

The Art of Storytelling in Video Games

We read stories to entertain ourselves, travel to strange or magical places, get scared, discover a whodunit, laugh, cry, think, feel and are so engrossed that for a moment we forget where we are.

We consume stories in many ways, such as reading books or watching movies. But there’s another form of storytelling that elicits adoration: video games.

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The usual structure of storytelling in popular media has always been something like this – we witness an incident unfolding, sometimes through the eyes of a character, and sometimes from the words of a narrator. It’s a proven and engaging method, which allows us to care about the characters and the story.

However, we can only do this as observers. It is limited to always being a passive experience.

Video games have the unique ability to give people direct experience of what happens to a character. Players are not limited to being spectators. They become the hero, the villain, or just a dad running from a nine-foot-tall vampire lady to save his daughter.

Plus, games like God of War (2018) allow you to experience one of the most beautiful, personal, larger-than-life stories of all time about a God and his son. The game is spiritually integrated into Norse mythology with modifications to give the game a chance to tell its version of the myths.

Some video games, like The Last of Us Part II, have you playing multiple characters, forcing you to empathize with the viewpoints of different characters with different, if not opposing, ideals and goals. It makes the story non-binary and feels realistically complex, something other mediums rarely possess.

Another great example would be Detroit: Become Human, an interactive choose your own adventure game. The story confronts the player with a familiar dichotomy: should sentient robots have the same rights as humans? Players have to make decisions both as characters who would be okay and who wouldn’t while playing the game.

Video games have long been considered hollow media to be consumed for mindless recreation, while books and movies are valued as carriers of impactful stories. Castlevania is a perfect example of the fallacy of this sentiment.

The show, adapted from a popular game series titled the same, has vampires, vampire hunters, mages, magical beasts, and more as its premise. But even between all the action-packed fights, we see politics, parenting issues, religious discourse, real and flawed characters, as well as good vampires and terrible human beings.

These aspects of these adaptations are a testament to how video game stories can be as powerful and impactful, if not more so, than our contemporary storytelling methods. So, it’s time we started to appreciate video games, not just as another medium of entertainment, but also as sources of articulate storytelling.

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