I'm getting sick of the "Characters and story in gaming is lesser than other mediums" argument

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King Aragorn:
This idea that gameplay and story are two segregated parts is harmful. We need to abandon this philosophy in games and see them as one part, the whole. Gameplay should be used to tell a story, it should jell with the story and they should match together to create one engrossing, immersive experience. Its what makes video games unique, ultimately. They shouldn't be two wildly different things and wildly different experiences.

While I agree with this sentiment, we also have to acknowledge that not every game needs a story, but every story needs gameplay to actually be a game. Of course ideally a game should have both, but there's nothing wrong with acknowledging that all mediums have features that are more important than others. For instance, everyone loves an animated movie with a well written story and characters. However, animation can be nothing but a visual spectacle for the eyes in the case of movies like Fantasia and The Thief & the Cobbler and still be considered some of the best examples of their medium. Same with films, I can enjoy a movie like Tron: Legacy even though the characters and plot is fairly flat simply due to how much the world and the soundtrack engrosses me. Even most games from the "Golden Age of video games" had little to no existent story and are still highly regarded today.

King Aragorn:
I don't think gameplay needs to be fun in the traditional sense. It needs to be engrossing and engaging, but I think the general consensus on what's considered ''fun'' might be a bit limiting.

Also a good point. As long as gameplay isn't tacked on to justify the story with something like quick time events or a clunky, less in depth version of another game, I can usually see an argument for how it could be constituted as "fun".

hermes200:
I would tell you that the emphasis of storytelling is not something that always formed part of the medium. At first, it was not much more than a gimmicky circus act of "look at this pictures of people doing everyday stuff move before your very eyes". Curious as it was, porn in movies is almost as old as stories in movies, and much older than elements of the movie language like edition or lines were introduced. It was thanks to people like Melies that others saw the potential to tell stories through moving images and, even then, many of Melies' stories were as crude and simple as people think of games now.

In many ways, videogames are at that level now. The problem I have is not with people that think they are not up to other mediums NOW (which is arguable but, in the end, entirely subjective), but those who think they never will.

Yes, I know that the emphasis on storytelling wasn't always part of the medium; That was actually a major part of my point. After all, to critique the plot and characters of something like Mouse Trap, is to miss the point of what the game is (and arguments about the evolution of the medium are fair, but huge numbers of games today - especially with the mobile gaming boom - are still very similar when it comes to the basics of gameplay and the lack of need for plot or character).

I think there's value to pointing out that the interactive or play element of games is always going to complicate the games relationship to narrative and character in a way that a passive-viewer experience will not. That's why I thought it was important to mention how many of the games that are praised for story are adventure games, and generally adventure games from very specific sub-genres. I don't doubt that someday an adventure game might emerge with characterizations that might rival other media, but I strongly suspect that the game would also be very cinematic (and thus a film-hybrid) or be a P&C/VN (and thus a comic or novel hybrid).

Now that's not to say that there's no value in discussing what the game equivalent of Le Voyage dans la Lune (or whatever turning point you want to use) or gaming's Citizen Kane (or whatever classic you want to use), because those are still interesting topics, but I think the specific areas of narrative strength and characterization are just never going to be central to most genres within gaming. And that's not an insult to games at all - if games are weaker in those areas it's because they don't need them, in the same way that a novel doesn't need to involve interaction beyond imagination. And that again isn't absolute - pop-up books and Choose Your Own Adventure books require interaction, but they're very specific genres just like those adventure games.

Fox12:
-snip-

You are right about that, that interactivity does detract from that old style of narrative which is almost exclusively in control of creator. So far different games and this conversation made me realize how different story telling methods can be in games. So, let's break it down

In games like Last of Us and Mass Effect story telling is mostly walled off from gameplay. Yes it happens during gameplay but not through gameplay. These games use movie and radio and book language and use it greatly. They also created characters that we remember the most collectively. And Ellie and Garrus Vakarian are among top 10 predefined characters in gaming for me (even if Garrus is Marry Sue character, he's just the perfect anti-hero with hear of gold and blood shot eyes). Also best predefined characters are, in my experience, all NPCs. In Uncharted I prefer Elena to Drake, for example. And while NPCs don't always outshine player character best ones, in my opinion, are NPC. Perhaps exactly because they are not "corrupted" by gameplay.

Then there are blank slates and organic sorytelling with predetermined set pieces and NPCs. It doesn't really have to be blank slate, Nameless One from Plnescape Torment have millennia of predefined history but you define his present character and actions for example. Fallout is probably the pinnacle of this design. This is also, for me, where the most memorable characters in games come from. At the same time, those characters are impossible to discuss. Still that is second best games have to offer. in my opinion.

Lastly there are characters that are purely mechanical storytelling, or purely abstract avatar of a player. This is where the medium is at it's strongest. Two sides of that language are Loneliness and Journey. First is predetermined in every way but regardless, the action of a player is what tells the story in such a powerful way. It defines square blocks and gives them personality with one single action, or rather makes us give them personalities. it's powerful, beautiful and so unique to interactive medium. Journey on the other hand is all about imagination and social contact. While there is a somewhat structured story it's the abstraction of social contact with second player that gives this form such an unique quality. They are not characters per se but abstraction of us thus affecting players much, much more strongly than other types.

Of course, there are the NON-characters too, Gordon Freemans of the gaming world. The empty vesel that will always remain empty no mater how much player pours in ti since the world can't react to them or they will not remain empty for player to fill them in temporarily, inconsistently and story-breakingly. But those I really don't see as relevant to the discussion. They matter as much as a camera in a movie. Important yet must be kept out of one's mind to relay consume medium.

I disagree that the story is purely told in a cinematic style through out both Mass Effect and The Last of Us. In The Last of Us, many of the game's most hard hitting moments are done through gameplay, or told through gameplay rather and alot of the nuiances that flesh out the game's characters are done through gameplay, and the actual combat itself is very fitting of the themes of the game, plot and setting.

With Mass Effect being choice based, I don't see how gameplay, or more accurately interaction isn't used here. But that aside, I think the blank canvas character is an interesting approach to things, in general. In a way, it puts you at the front seat and at control more so than other types of story telling in video games, but ultimately it sacrificed depth that comes from a pre-defined, fully realized character from the writers, in favor of having you fill in the blanks. Its interesting you bring Fallout into this because I have a question: let's say a voice actor was introduced into the mix, would it harm the experience?

On the topic of characters in game... How do we judge some of them? A common way to judge characters in other works is in their motivations. If a character does something they would never do, simply to move along the plot, we consider that to be poor. This was the most common complaint I saw for every season of Heroes after the first.

But how do we use such a thing to judge a character like Commander Shepard? I could argue that in this case, just because your Commander Shepard was a poor character, mine wasn't and vice versa.

I don't have an answer to this, it just seems to be a unique problem to this genre.

Alek_the_Great:

Fox12:

Yeah, this pisses me off. Games have already surpassed film. Games gave us The Last of Us. Film gave us World War Z. Games have given us Mass Effect, Spec Ops, To the Moon, and Dark Souls within just the last few years. Film has given us 4 Transformers, 3 Iron Man films, 7 X-men movies(?), and five Spider man films. Games are filled with vibrant new stories and ideas, and are exploring symbolism. Film has stagnated. T.V. is even worse. You have to search the indie circuits for anything good, and even then I find most art house films rather uninspired. All my favorite films are from decades ago. If films have traditionally had a stronger claim, it is because they've been around longer. I would argue, though, that games being produced now far exceed films being produced now. Just look at how the Walking Dead game is better written then the show (and comic). The best show on t.v. right now is Game of Thrones, a watered down book adaptation. If this is the "golden age of television" then color me unimpressed. Find me a recent film that matches Silent Hill 2's subtlety, Mass Effects grand scale, or Spec Ops depiction of psychological horror and warfare. Film and television is an intellectual wasteland right now, look elsewhere.

But lets say you hate AAA gaming. There's also a vibrant indie culture that has boomed, giving you anything you could ever want, and plenty of things you never knew you wanted. Honestly, I consider gaming second to literature at this particular moment.

This is what I have a problem with people trying to say gaming is somehow better than film/television or literature. You're literally comparing the lowest common denominator in those mediums to what is considered the best of gaming in order to make it appear better than it is. The examples you provide simply aren't equivalent to each other. Sure, movies have plenty of mindless popcorn flicks and cheap cash ins but gaming is just as bad in this regard if not worse. If you want to talk about stagnation you need to look no further than the current state of gaming. This is the medium that is dominated by games like yearly Call of Duties, an obsession with modern military shooters, numerous franchises that have been milked dry by shallow sequel after sequel, and that's not even touching the cesspool that is mobile gaming. The worst part is that you outright ignore any of the more critically acclaimed films or shows out there. It's funny you should mention games like Silent Hill or Spec Ops: The Line since they're basically watered down versions of Jacob's Ladder and Apocalypse Now. Even Mass Effect stopped being a competently written hard scifi after the first game and devolved into a mindless action shooter with explosion laden set pieces by the second game. Even the Last of Us did anything in particular to advance its genre. The main draw was that it had competently written characters and a good atmosphere. Indie games as a whole are hardly more artistically relevant either. Most tend to be overrated slogfests that try to substitute intelligent game design with half baked ideas inspired from far more competent sources. Sure, you can have games like Bastion that have a unique art style, actually entertaining and diversive gameplay, fantastic sound design, an interesting story with characters, and an overall solid game design but how often do you see people use it as an example of good indie games? No, most people cling to the overrated dreck like Braid and Gone Home simply because they have a "deeper" message to them. It seems most people are all too willing to take anything that's not mainstream and just place it on a pedestal.

I think you missed the part where I said "modern film." Film already had it's hayday. You say that spec ops is a watered down version of alpocalypse now, but apocalypse now is just a watered down version of Heart of Darkness. The same can be said for many Kubrick films, and his terrible charectirization. That's not to say that all film is bad, just that it's in a rut, while games aren't. I also never said that games were better than literature. I consider literature the best story telling medium by far.

BloatedGuppy:

Fox12:
Perhaps, but as I've said, I don't find most art house films that impressive these days either. The main thing is that there's a greater deal of variety in gaming right now. I've studied film and television, and was disgusted with culture there. It's not conductive to an artistic mindset. I haven't seen a television series within the last several decades that I'd call art, and corporate structure is awful.

So...do I understand this correctly...you were completely disgusted by and underwhelmed by The Sopranos, The Wire, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Shield, Six Feet Under, True Detective, House of Cards, etc, etc, etc, and think they're rubbish, but you're overwhelmed with excitement by The Last of Us and Mass Effect?

And I mean, again, no disrespect to those games, but are you serious?

Sight Unseen:
Well, gaming has yet to produce a story along the lines of Breaking Bad or ASOIAF, but there's still some pretty damn great stories to be found. The Walking Dead game is better than the comics and TV show IMO (but that may be becuase I don't like comic books as a format and the show is meh in terms of storytelling)

.

I haven't seen the sopranos or the wire, so I'll leave them out. But otherwise? Yeah, pretty much. Breaking Bad was good, but it was hardly breathtaking. I would consider it extremely average when compared to any decent work of literature. The fact that this is apparently the golden standard for television is underwhelming. I honestly find it difficult to think of any television shows that stand alongside great classics, except maybe twilight zone, which works as an anthology of short stories. At least film had Citizen Kane and other masterpieces. Say what you will about the Last of Us, but it was a self contained story that knew how to use gameplay to reinforce a story. Television takes too long to progress a plot, tends to overstay its welcome, and constantly leave hanging plot threads. It also has, hands down, the worst corporate structure of any medium in terms of artistic balance.

You could say Film and TV characters and story are vastly lesser than book characters, actually, many who like books will probably say exactly that given the grisly hatchet job done to the characters and plot in most adaptations from books to TV or film (mostly to simplify it for the visual medium and short run time).

I think that TV, Film, and Gaming are about on par (people ITT cherry picking their comparisons with some of the better gaming options and crap film options need to stop indulging their confirmation bias), and books are well advanced on all three. But what do you expect; books have had vastly more time to develop and are free to focus exclusively on the story and characters, not having to deal with the requirements of the other mediums such as actors, production, graphics, or gameplay.

I have yet to find a Citizen Kane equivalent in video games, nor any characters with remotely the same depth and complexity as one would find in a Terry Pratchett story.

This is not to say that video gaming can't have 'good' characters and story though - I've enjoyed stories and characters before, been emotionally invested in the plights, etc. but generally speaking most video games I've played have lacked that same level of 'oomph' that the very best of movies and novels carries. I don't really know why - could be the age of video games (what is it, 30-40 years? Wheras film's been kicking around for over a century and novels for even longer?), or a by-product of the way Video games are produced.

I will say though, that one of the most recent games - and most surprising games - put a lot of hope in me that video games are 'getting better' at writing and characters. Wolfenstein: The New Order is somehow one of the best written games I've ever played, with solid characters and a pretty strong story to it. Which is weird, given it's a fucking Wolfenstein game, which started the whole 'Meathead shooter' genre.

Fox12:
Snip

Frankly, I think film continues to find ways to get better. Sure, a lot of terrible schlock is getting produced, but, well, games can't exactly claim the morale high ground there.

Meanwhile, film has been knocking out some great stuff. Now, my particular tastes can hardly be used to set an objective standard for all media, but in the last few years there have been far more movies made that I felt were fantastic than there have been games. Just from the top of my head, Cloud Atlas, Only Lovers Left Alive, Zero Theorem, Seven Psychopaths, the Dallas Buyers Club, even Frozen, all managed to have narratives and characters that eclipse just about anything gaming has to offer. It's also so much easier to find a decent story outside of the action genre in film, whereas you're hard pressed to find anything outside of the action genre in games.

When I look back at the games I've played over the same period that I had similar reactions to, I'm really only left with the Walking Dead, Bioshock Infinite, and Kentucky Route Zero. And I know people who'd argue that the latter doesn't even count as a game (although I vehemently disagree). As much as I love these games, in terms of characters, narrative, and emotional resonance, they don't come close to the best of film. And pacing. Good lord, pacing. Games can just can't seem to get a handle on pacing. Spec Ops was amazing, but every time you had to actually fight a bunch of mooks the mood of the game just got shot. The Walking Dead/Kentucky Route Zero are better in that respect, but the Mass Effect games just don't have any pacing at all. Those games actively reward you for ignoring the galaxy-saving main quest to go off on random sidequests and to help your companions work through personal issues.

Now, this is a highly subjective set of comparisons, and highly reflective of my personal tastes. I'm sure the reason you disagree is indicative of your own tastes in this matter. I would say, at the root of this, is that those people who actually take an interest in "quality" storytelling and characters generally end up with particular preconceptions of how this storytelling should be done. The pacing example above is perfect, in my opinion. Very few games can compete with even mediocre movies when it comes to pacing, because they're just so much longer and full of fundamentally repetitive actions. There's a law in just about every medium, that a scene is only necessary if it a) advances the plot, or b) drives character development. Games add c) provides fun gameplay, but in terms of traditional storytelling they kinda shoot themselves in the foot.

I don't get annoyed so much at that.

If someone wants to project their ignorance let them.

Now, to play Devil's Advocate for a second.
If someone were to say that the average standard for video game storytelling and characters was lower than the average standard of other mediums I'd agree with that whole heatedly.

but to say that "the best" of video game stories and characters are inherently worse than the best any other medium has to offer is just silly.

I mean The Tell Tale Walking Dead games blow the AMC Walking Dead show completely out of the water in every aspect.

Spec Ops The Line is the best version of Heart of Darkness, in my opinion. and other people's too.

Prince of Persia Sands of Time, anyone? You'd be hard pressed to come up with a better story in a similar genera.

The people who say that probably just don't appreciate the unique relationship video games have to narrative structure.
They have to break up the narrative around all the playing, which could be taken as a weakness, but the strongest games capitalize on it or even embrace it. Like Portal, or Silent Hill 2

King Aragorn:
What's a 3 dimensional character?
I think that's a good question. When we're talking complexity and depth, I think we need something to go off of here. I'd say a three dimensional character is one that has a distinct, well developed personality trait with well thought out motivations along with a character arc so he evolves through out the story, and this includes moral contradictions for the characters and struggles.

Bit of a blanket term to just call most video game characters 2 dimensional or 1 dimensional.

A three dimensional character is one that can exist beyond the confines of the story they inhabit. For example, can you imagine Kratos on a (by ancient Greek standards) sunday afternoon when there's no vengeange to be had? Probably not, because that's really all there is to his character.

If the only character traits they have are those that spur on the story, there's likely not much depth to them.

I disagree with that argument, because video games are interactive they simply blow all other forms of storytelling out of the water.

Take dynasty warriors 8 for example, DW 8 does not have a good story in fact you could easily argue it has a bad story, and yet I still enjoyed its story more than any book or movie, pretty much just because of the hypothetical stages.

Despite that I don't think that the argument is annoying, what is annoying is when people put literature on a pedestal and use it as a way to judge the quality of stories, when a video game Is like a novel it should mean that its text heavy not that it's really good.

themilo504:
I disagree with that argument, because video games are interactive they simply blow all other forms of storytelling out of the water.

Take dynasty warriors 8 for example, DW 8 does not have a good story in fact you could easily argue it has a bad story, and yet I still enjoyed its story more than any book or movie, pretty much just because of the hypothetical stages.

Despite that I don't think that the argument is annoying, what is annoying is when people put literature on a pedestal and use it as a way to judge the quality of stories, when a video game Is like a novel it should mean that its text heavy not that it's really good.

Given text is the end-game when it comes to communication, especially when writing script or stories, it's not odd that people elevate it above a medium that has been around for less than a century. It's trusted and true, and it's kind of hard to take the argument of someone seriously who honestly believes that the meat of 99.9 (if not 100%) of games is somehow superior to novels or film. It just isn't. The POTENTIAL of an interactive medium in terms of story is amazing. The amount of agency that is given to the person playing is both a blessing and a curse, in that case.

Also, as a side-note, "enjoyment" isn't a particularly good measure of quality. I also "enjoyed" Supernatural, but it's absolutely cringe-worthy and cheesy, WHICH IS FINE. It's what it is. It's not ashamed of it or pretending it isn't, but that doesn't make it worth more when we're speaking of quality.

To echo my previous statement, interactivity is not ultimately superior to other forms of storytelling. It's enabling, it places agency in the hands of the reader, it has to become diluted with branching whilst remaining manageable. The enabling leads to the reader often assuming that this is THEIR story and placing false attachment to things that they have no hold over. On the other hand, that same agency allows for a very engaging experience, where it's easier to relate to characters because you have a much broader view of their scope.
On the other hand, that leads to characters being shallow in the current vision of games, where the engagement a person has with a character becomes a shortcut to AVOID what makes interactive story-telling interesting: details. Since you feel attached, why bother go further?
It's the same with narrative. Interactivity factoring into story-telling of games has to accommodate for a fair bit of variables to become truly worthwhile, but given the fact that games aren't made by single people on a word processor, it's hard to achieve that without a LOT of pull.

Either way, claiming "superiority" is silly. Movies haven't surpassed books as being a "superior" mode of engagement with its audience, nor will games surpass the other two. It's all about using strengths of a medium in conjunction with story-telling, and this medium is only grasping at it right now.

King Aragorn:
I disagree that the story is purely told in a cinematic style through out both Mass Effect and The Last of Us. In The Last of Us, many of the game's most hard hitting moments are done through gameplay, or told through gameplay rather and alot of the nuiances that flesh out the game's characters are done through gameplay, and the actual combat itself is very fitting of the themes of the game, plot and setting.

With Mass Effect being choice based, I don't see how gameplay, or more accurately interaction isn't used here. But that aside, I think the blank canvas character is an interesting approach to things, in general. In a way, it puts you at the front seat and at control more so than other types of story telling in video games, but ultimately it sacrificed depth that comes from a pre-defined, fully realized character from the writers, in favor of having you fill in the blanks. Its interesting you bring Fallout into this because I have a question: let's say a voice actor was introduced into the mix, would it harm the experience?

Some of the tone of character was portrayed through gameplay. In last of Us anyway. But gameplay would actually stop every time some character development needs to take place. You could make decision, say, half of Geth population by either holding position or abandoning position and setting up self-destruction during gameplay. It's not a perfect example since that was one of moments in Mass Effect where I sopped to think about my action but ultimately went with first thought to wipe them out since I would rather be dead than my body existing with possible frag mental memory of myself.

And I wouldn't like using VA foc player character. Voice has personality traits assign to it. That's why we say that someone's voice and body/personality don't add up. Like squeaky voiced body builder, or rough voiced female model. It could seriously reduce the players immersion.

Honestly, it's not about the writing. "Writing" in video games usually just refers to the cutscenes, and the lines of dialogue the characters say. This ranges from "Just okay" to "holy cow, have you never met another human being before," but it's only part of the picture.

The big, big issue in narrative video games is storytelling. This includes everything that the player experiences: the camera angles, the lighting, the art design, and most importantly, the basic mechanics of the game. Video game storytelling is leagues below all other mediums. This is because game developers haven't really figured out how to use all of the elements of video games to tell their story. A movie like Citizen Kane uses literally everything at its disposal to get across its story and themes. This includes the cinematography, the set design, the acting, the makeup, the structure of the script, etc.

Video games just haven't really come close to storytelling at that level. Really the only place they've excelled at is art direction. But it's so rare to see a game that uses its mechanics and gameplay to tell the story. In fact, usually the gameplay is separate to the story. There's a short cutscene that advance the story, and then you start the level, which is the meat of the game but doesn't really affect the overall plot.

Once video games figure out how to use all of their tools unique to gaming to tell stories, then we'll get our Citizen Kane. That hasn't happened yet. Video games are about how you explore and interact with the gameworld. They aren't about cutscenes.

AdonistheDark:
Well, movies have a century worth of history and attempts under its belt and TV has either just recently past or is still in the midst of its "golden age".

Not saying there's never been a game that had a great sense of character and storytelling, I'd argue it's more common than people give credit for if people didn't have such a "cinematic/literary" notion of video game storytelling, but it strikes me as video games trying to jump ahead in line without having paid the same dues other mediums have. Don't be so impatient. Twenty years ago we were barely past 16 bit sprites and text boxes. It's better to have efforts criticized and the kinks worked out than to have the bar lowered. Games still don't even have a grasp of what storytelling methods best encompass the strengths of video games as a medium.

Ellie's a good character, but comparing her to the likes of Tony Soprano or movie TE Lawrence in terms of complexity or staying power? That's a losing proposition.

The point isn't that gaming has no good efforts; is that the gulf between its best efforts and other mediums' best efforts is so obviously wide.

Storytelling in games, especially ones that serve a competitive purpose than that of literature and film is a different breed. Not saying games can't have more nuanced and real people with more modern relatable complexities and internal conflicts. But their purpose and goals are different in informing a players actions, rather than presenting a narrative. So cheesy and simple or old fashioned isn't objectively bad if its an effective feedback device.

gargantual:

AdonistheDark:
Well, movies have a century worth of history and attempts under its belt and TV has either just recently past or is still in the midst of its "golden age".

Not saying there's never been a game that had a great sense of character and storytelling, I'd argue it's more common than people give credit for if people didn't have such a "cinematic/literary" notion of video game storytelling, but it strikes me as video games trying to jump ahead in line without having paid the same dues other mediums have. Don't be so impatient. Twenty years ago we were barely past 16 bit sprites and text boxes. It's better to have efforts criticized and the kinks worked out than to have the bar lowered. Games still don't even have a grasp of what storytelling methods best encompass the strengths of video games as a medium.

Ellie's a good character, but comparing her to the likes of Tony Soprano or movie TE Lawrence in terms of complexity or staying power? That's a losing proposition.

The point isn't that gaming has no good efforts; is that the gulf between its best efforts and other mediums' best efforts is so obviously wide.

Storytelling in games, especially ones that serve a competitive purpose than that of literature and film is a different breed. Not saying games can't have more nuanced and real people with more modern relatable complexities and internal conflicts. But their purpose and goals are different in informing a players actions, rather than presenting a narrative. So cheesy and simple or old fashioned isn't objectively bad if its an effective feedback device.

I'm mortified I mixed up "past" and "passed" so flagrantly.

Anyway, I agree with you. My posts, as much of a smug TV snob I come off as, are qualified by the fact that video games often get compared by the same storytelling metric as film/television. By that standard, video games do fall short due to the fact they always have that "interactivity" bugbear diverting effort and focus from the passive narrative portion. Or worse, the passive narrative portion diverts effort and focus from the interactive portion.

However, I also said I believe competent video game storytelling is more common than many give it credit for as long as one is willing to judge video games on their own terms rather than a cinematic/literary criterion. For example, I view Shigeru Miyamoto conceiving the Legend of Zelda series as an allegory for his childhood exploration to be very effective storytelling and Majora's Mask a surprisingly decent meditation on death and futility even if the surface narration is simplistic. I just feel that video games are better at "metaphor through mechanics" than having its characters monologue and such. As another poster put it, if the rule for other media is "show, don't tell" then video games follow the maxim of "do, don't show".

This is why even though I think other media are "farther along" than video games, video game storytelling interests me more logistically. I feel I've already seen the best of what film, television, and literature can be. Video games still haven't completely made the break from its predecessors and found their own identity. It's like film treating itself as little more than recorded plays rather than taking advantage of cinematography.

Ferisar:

themilo504:
I disagree with that argument, because video games are interactive they simply blow all other forms of storytelling out of the water.

Take dynasty warriors 8 for example, DW 8 does not have a good story in fact you could easily argue it has a bad story, and yet I still enjoyed its story more than any book or movie, pretty much just because of the hypothetical stages.

Despite that I don't think that the argument is annoying, what is annoying is when people put literature on a pedestal and use it as a way to judge the quality of stories, when a video game Is like a novel it should mean that its text heavy not that it's really good.

Given text is the end-game when it comes to communication, especially when writing script or stories, it's not odd that people elevate it above a medium that has been around for less than a century. It's trusted and true, and it's kind of hard to take the argument of someone seriously who honestly believes that the meat of 99.9 (if not 100%) of games is somehow superior to novels or film. It just isn't. The POTENTIAL of an interactive medium in terms of story is amazing. The amount of agency that is given to the person playing is both a blessing and a curse, in that case.

Also, as a side-note, "enjoyment" isn't a particularly good measure of quality. I also "enjoyed" Supernatural, but it's absolutely cringe-worthy and cheesy, WHICH IS FINE. It's what it is. It's not ashamed of it or pretending it isn't, but that doesn't make it worth more when we're speaking of quality.

To echo my previous statement, interactivity is not ultimately superior to other forms of storytelling. It's enabling, it places agency in the hands of the reader, it has to become diluted with branching whilst remaining manageable. The enabling leads to the reader often assuming that this is THEIR story and placing false attachment to things that they have no hold over. On the other hand, that same agency allows for a very engaging experience, where it's easier to relate to characters because you have a much broader view of their scope.
On the other hand, that leads to characters being shallow in the current vision of games, where the engagement a person has with a character becomes a shortcut to AVOID what makes interactive story-telling interesting: details. Since you feel attached, why bother go further?
It's the same with narrative. Interactivity factoring into story-telling of games has to accommodate for a fair bit of variables to become truly worthwhile, but given the fact that games aren't made by single people on a word processor, it's hard to achieve that without a LOT of pull.

Either way, claiming "superiority" is silly. Movies haven't surpassed books as being a "superior" mode of engagement with its audience, nor will games surpass the other two. It's all about using strengths of a medium in conjunction with story-telling, and this medium is only grasping at it right now.

First up I freely admit that I'm rather biased, I don't like books I never have and I probably never will, I think that literature is a terrible way to tell a story, and I think that the only reason why so many good stories are books is because books have been around for very long.

I'm also not the biggest movie guy, I generally prefer good television shows as they have a lot more time to flesh out the world and the characters.

However I never said that 99 percent of all games have better stories than books or movies, I was using DW 8 as an example of the power of interactivity, not as proof that all movies and books are terrible.

And why is it silly to consider one form of storytelling superior? other forms of storytelling have their strengths sure, but that doesn't change the fact that I just like games more.

themilo504:

First up I freely admit that I'm rather biased, I don't like books I never have and I probably never will, I think that literature is a terrible way to tell a story, and I think that the only reason why so many good stories are books is because books have been around for very long.

I'm also not the biggest movie guy, I generally prefer good television shows as they have a lot more time to flesh out the world and the characters.

However I never said that 99 percent of all games have better stories than books or movies, I was using DW 8 as an example of the power of interactivity, not as proof that all movies and books are terrible.

And why is it silly to consider one form of storytelling superior? other forms of storytelling have their strengths sure, but that doesn't change the fact that I just like games more.

Because your anecdotal perception which you freely admit is entirely biased in your inability to interact with prior mediums limits your view. I don't care to discuss that particular line of thought any further, because that's equivalent to me saying "I think the color red is superior to the color blue, because it's my favorite". It doesn't prove superiority, it just peddles your preference.
I was using DW 8 as an example of failed narrative and story-telling in the medium of interactivity, the benefits of which are present simply because of where the story is placed. A book will always tap the reader's imagination, regardless of how bad it is, because that's what text does. It forces you to recreate the written scenario in your own terms with the words you've been given. There are also benefits and downsides in that.

Also, unless text will vanish off the face of the Earth, literature will stay around. Literature is what every other story-telling medium is based upon at the end of the day; to dismiss it is folly at the best of times. I shudder to think what would pass as "writers" in games when it comes to story-telling if books were never even considered. What we have now would seem as a god-send.

Ferisar:

themilo504:

First up I freely admit that I'm rather biased, I don't like books I never have and I probably never will, I think that literature is a terrible way to tell a story, and I think that the only reason why so many good stories are books is because books have been around for very long.

I'm also not the biggest movie guy, I generally prefer good television shows as they have a lot more time to flesh out the world and the characters.

However I never said that 99 percent of all games have better stories than books or movies, I was using DW 8 as an example of the power of interactivity, not as proof that all movies and books are terrible.

And why is it silly to consider one form of storytelling superior? other forms of storytelling have their strengths sure, but that doesn't change the fact that I just like games more.

Because your anecdotal perception which you freely admit is entirely biased in your inability to interact with prior mediums limits your view. I don't care to discuss that particular line of thought any further, because that's equivalent to me saying "I think the color red is superior to the color blue, because it's my favorite". It doesn't prove superiority, it just peddles your preference.
I was using DW 8 as an example of failed narrative and story-telling in the medium of interactivity, the benefits of which are present simply because of where the story is placed. A book will always tap the reader's imagination, regardless of how bad it is, because that's what text does. It forces you to recreate the written scenario in your own terms with the words you've been given. There are also benefits and downsides in that.

Also, unless text will vanish off the face of the Earth, literature will stay around. Literature is what every other story-telling medium is based upon at the end of the day; to dismiss it is folly at the best of times. I shudder to think what would pass as "writers" in games when it comes to story-telling if books were never even considered. What we have now would seem as a god-send.

I do not have an inability to interact with prior mediums, I simply don't like books and I feel my time is better spent doing something else.

Btw It really annoys me how it's perfectly normal to not like movies or games, but it's bad if you dislike literature, again a example of this society putting books on a unnecessary pedestal.

Unlike books I do in fact actually like movies, there are simply things that I like more than movies, if I had infinite free time I would gladly watch more movies.

I never said that literature would vanish, and yes one should keep books in mind when writhing games, acknowledging that does not mean that I am unable to dislike books.

Superiority is a subjective thing, if I prefer blue as a colour over red then that means that I think blue is superior.

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