Storytelling Through Video Games

Like any form of entertainment, video games have evolved with time. As technology has improved, graphical capabilities have increased along with the variety of ways in which games are played. Standards for controls have been established to make even the newest games more accessible to people that have experience with other games. More and more, games are becoming available with just a search and a few clicks on a computer (plus some time for downloading), making video games increasingly more likely to be a hobby for people around the world.

As these changes have allowed games to adapt, so too have video games gone through fads matching the interests of the time. The current fad genre spreading to as many new games and established series as it can reach is the battle royale, where each player is set against (generally) ninety-eight other players, each trying to knock the others out of the game until they are the last remaining. Even Tetris has gotten in on the battle royale action with Tetris 99. These types of games are the most recent trend within the player versus player (PvP) genre, a very common style for multiplayer games to take.

PvP games are popular for many reasons, including as a way for players to interact with others that have similar interests and to test their abilities against other players. These are also the types of games that have allowed video gaming to become a professional career for the extremely skilled. At the same time, with the emphasis that has been placed on PvP games, it can seem as though this is the only genre available to play. This is definitely not true, and hides my favorite type: story-driven games.

This summer, I finally played Firewatch, a 2016 first-person mystery that reminded me just how much I like story-driven games. Video games offer potentially the best platform to tell a story. By being the person actively controlling the protagonist, it is nearly impossible not to be entirely absorbed by a well-written storyline. Often, in fully story-based games, the player gets to make key choices to influence the direction of the game and add a bit of personal weight to the finale. The player develops an investment in the character, and thus an investment in the game. I know I personally played the entirety of Firewatch in one sitting (luckily it was a relatively short game), because I simply couldn’t pause the narrative.

Even games that aren’t purely story-based can benefit from being story-driven. Take, for example, the Portal series. You’ll be hard pressed to find someone that enjoys puzzle games that didn’t absolutely love Portal. The next game in the series, Portal 2, is even more beloved for being everything that could have been asked for in a sequel. It was a longer game with additions that improved the gameplay, had new and interesting characters to interact with pre-established ones, and, most importantly, included an expanded storyline to create a truly magnificent game. Despite how beloved Portal is, Portal 2 is undeniably a better game, in large part due to the inclusion of an enhanced story.

Like anything that has multiple genres, there will be some types of games that an individual will prefer over others. At the same time, those that may be interested in starting gaming as a hobby deserve the chance to find the genre that best fits their interests. PvP games are very popular, and for good reason. The ability to play with friends has been a boon for video games since they were created, and is incredibly fun. Still, this genre of game is not the only one available, and other types offer just as much entertainment. Story-driven games provide immersive experiences that are often hard to forget and deserve some consideration the next time you search for a game to play.

Images: Cover, 1, 2, 3