C&G – Narrative in Games
My husband is an avid gamer and game reviewer. One of his passions is tackling the matter of narrative in games by examining their current state in the medium, and anticipating their development. This piece was done to accompany one such feature article in C&G Monthly, a Canadian pop culture magazine focusing on comics and video games.
Being married to someone who is passionate about games, it’s inevitable I suppose that I share some of his love for them. I’ll admit I’m much more of a backseat gamer than one that actually plays games, mostly because I don’t have the reflexes for many games and I tend to panic under the time-sensitive stresses that are core to the gameplay of most games. But I do enjoy watching the games that we buy, in particular the ones that have good storylines.
To me, the current attitudes towards stories in games is similar to the attitude people had towards comics when I was growing up. Comics were viewed as this sub-par combination of badly drawn pictures and bland, 2-dimensional stories for children and no-too-bright adults. In recent years, thanks to successful movie adaptations (or so i think), the public has come to accept that it is possible to tell a deep, meaningful and engaging story through comics, and at some level it’s more socially acceptable now. Games, in turn, have moved in to fill the spot vacated by comics to being the pariahs of storytelling.
Which is a darn shame because while some games still have bad stories, there are some stories to be enjoyed in the still-developing medium. Stories in games are uniquely experienced, both as gamer and observer, and the bottom line is that it’s a bit unfair for people to dismiss the stories or to simply say that there is no story to be had.
So, when my husband said he was doing a piece about narrative in games, I wanted to cook up something that helped illustrate the article in a nutshell, in a way that looked hopefully more mature and intelligent. It’s not much, but I hope that combining a thoughtful essay with a picture that isn’t just space marine/bikini warrior will help to eventually get people to realize the same thing they did about comics – that both comics and games don’t need to be stupid entertainment for kids, and that you can get some good stories out of both.