I was wondering when we would get to discuss video games in relation to digital storytelling. After all, the past two decades have seen an unimaginable sky-rocket of advancing technology and increased development of video games and the stories they tell. There’s a plethora of games that come to mind in terms of excellent storytelling, but I want to discuss a quick thought first.
Without trying to be too vague or too in depth, I feel as though gameplay ties directly into a video game’s narrative in the sense that it’s literally molded by the narrative and vice versa. Additionally, a video game could be lacking in one of these categories but really excel in the other that it still is considered an incredible game. So if a game’s story has incredible detail, depth, creativity, and imagination but lacks variety in gameplay, graphics, and aesthetics, there’s a chance that story may very well save the game in the long run. The opposite can be true as well, for games lacking in story but compensating in gameplay.
I suppose a video game’s success at storytelling depends on what story they want to tell. The game Destiny, for example, started out as a first-person-looter-shooter that had little to no story created. Destiny had engaging gameplay elements that kept players interested in a few months, but once the developers noticed their game gained and loss attention, they knew that a story had to be created to move the game along. Destiny makes use of cooperation and strategizing with other players to gain progress, both towards the narrative and towards the player. In this case, Destiny did a great job of challenging the player to uncover the story, albeit it was frustrating at first when there was no real story to uncover. A prime example of a video game’s challenging gameplay rewarding the player with bits of the story, making it feel as though they themselves were progressing the story along with their character. Shadow of the Colossus, Elden Ring, Dark Souls I – III, The Last Guardian, and others are examples of this concept.
If a video game can convey in-depth, detailed, genuine characters in their story that makes the player connect on a level similar to any novel they might read, that is another example of successful storytelling. Mass Effect, The Last of Us, God of War, Halo, Red Dead Redemption, just to name a few. Video games that give plenty of room to tell their story can and should utilize this idea of in-depth character development. Many RPGs follow this idea and some are more successful at it than others depending upon other factors such as gameplay, graphics, and functionality.
Thank you for reading,