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 Oakley 2 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 aspect. The Sims (2000) allowed a player to create a single simulated person (a sim) or an entire family of sims, and each simulated day the player could control everything their sim did, ranging from going to work, watching TV, eating, and even going to the bathroom. This ultimate choice seems to make the story of a game less of a story, and more of a reality. However, the point of the game has no real climax and no end to the game, so it is in a genre of its own.
It seems we should focus more on games that have a literal story line to get the answer. So, Knights of the Old Republic (2003) was released and quickly became the RPG of the year. It was awarded the title for graphical beauty, but most importantly, a revolutionary leveling system. As the game progressed your character gains experience from not only fighting, but from completing tasks and working with a myriad of objects and computers. But the more impressive feature was the influence that your character had Oakley 3 with the Force.
Depending on his or her choices, your character would become stronger (or weaker) with the different sides of the force. For example, if you help a family get off a planet that is about to be attacked (most likely because you are on the planet) you will gain light side points. If you kill someone for their money, you are one step closer to becoming one with the dark side. At the time this was an amazing feat; however, just a year later, Obsidian released the sequel to KOTOR, and it is glorious. With over 40 hours of gameplay and an enhanced “Light Side/Dark Side meter” the game has taken us to new levels of story telling.
KOTOR 2 introduces true philosophy into the gaming world. The best example takes place on the planet Nar Shadaa, a poor commoner approaches you and asks for 5 credits (tantamount to about a dollar), if you give it to him you will feel good about yourself, correct? Well, as Kreia, your teacher, will show you, not every good deed is truly helpful. As the commoner runs to his apartment he is mugged for his credits. Through this game you begin to realize that just because you are powerful (as Jedi always are) it does not mean you should involve yourself in every problem, for what are the victims to learn if you fight their fights?
How will they become stronger? It seems that this has become the main focus of the game (almost inadvertently). So is this game telling a story, or allowing us to grow as people (as cliche as it is)? Every game in the current market has a story to back it up, it’s almost a necessity, but in the late 70’s to mid 80’s there were a short supply of games that contained storylines. No one complained, it was expected that these games were supposed to entertain through challenges of beating the high score, not to learn the secrets of an ancient race or how Link saved Zelda.
So is it Oakley 4 a necessity? And what other qualities have taken the main stage of video games today? The video game world is an ever-changing realm, originally it was a staple way to pass the time, then it became what we looked forward to after a hard day’s work. So as the gaming world becomes more complex, new game types emerge to fill our free time. But very rarely does a game like Pac-Man or Pong come out; a game that has no real story in it, it’s just a way to score points.
However it is my belief that even when there is no literal story to a multiplayer game we still have a background to the reason we compete. If one were to take the story of the Master Chief and the Covenant out of the game Halo (2001), we would still have a superb multiplayer game. On the outside it would seem that the only reason to play is to kill the other Spartans, there is no deeper story behind it. However, for the players at least, it becomes a contest, and as you play more and more you remember the other games; you want revenge, you want to be better, or you want to do something funny.