The Video Game Narrative
The first argument that arose out of the video game world was the debate of video game violence. Still unresolved, this debate has actually allowed for the video game industry to come fully into the main stream. As the din over violence quieted the fans of the game society began to focus on issues more akin to their own style. So then began the debate of game play vs. the video game narrative. The question arose; can a game also be a story? While the semantics would suggest that, no, a game cannot be a story, we do realize that a game can contain a story. However, considering the amount of games that contain a story we can surmise that this question doesn’t further our study, and realizing that the amount of games (mostly of the 1980’s) that had no story and only gameplay we can see that the story is not a required facet for a game to be successful.
So the question is in need of updating. Is the story contained in today’s games the traditional linear story being contained in a non-linear gameplay arena, or do video game stories possess some special qualities that allow a game to be different from a book or movie. To understand the video game we need to look at one of the video game world’s ultimate predecessors: Dungeons and Dragons. Back in the time when teenage guys dressed up as the character that they had spent month after month making stronger, there existed no video games to fool with. No, this was how the nerds of the day hung out. And much like today, where we have “Halo bashes” of anywhere from 4 to 16 (16 being the average), the competition between warlock and dungeon master was only the beginning
of the excitement. The story that played out in D&D was different every time, depending on how the game was played. And like it’s successor, the RPG’s of today (most notably the Final Fantasy series) play the same way as the games of old. So the question remains, are the stories that games contain the same linear type that have been told for millennia, or are they a separate, special thing? Initially it would seem that the answer is simple, leaning towards the same linear story we’ve dealt with for years; however, the ability to change the story depending on your own choices gives the game certain originality every time you play it. It ceases to be a storyteller and gives you the ability to choose. Ultimately, it seems, games of the role-playing genre will give you the ability to influence every decision down to the most minute...