Video games are a very interesting medium for storytelling but when you think about how games tell their story, you do wonder how it works. Kotaku writter GB Burford recently wrote a fantastic article on storytelling in games.
Have you ever wondered why we tell stories?
I’ve heard a lot of reasons over the years, but the big one, the important one, is that stories are a human necessity. If dreams are the brain’s way of transferring memory from short term to long term storage, stories, it seems, are the brain’s way of helping us make sense of emotions. A story that doesn’t make you feel anything isn’t a story worth telling. This is why we rely on stories to help us work through our emotions. Good storytelling is fiber for the soul.
You tell stories every day, and when you’re not telling them, you’re probably listening to them. Stories are everywhere. Some are factual, some are not, some are advertisements, others are songs, some are movies, or television, or novels, or an anecdote from your best friend or most irritating coworker.
You’d think that we, the human race, would’ve collectively figured out how to tell a story by now. You’d think it’d be second nature. But it’s not, especially in video games. While I love the medium dearly, it’s historically poor at storytelling. I’d like to talk about why that is, and hopefully, somewhere in this essay, I’ll say something useful.