Before sitting down to watch the awe-inspiring Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, I was speaking to my friend and fellow gamer about his reading habits. Once upon a time he read fantasy novels almost exclusively. Now he sticks largely to non-fiction. Why? Because these days when he’s looking at fantasy, he’s seeing the same stories over and over again — the princess, the elves, the orcs, the questing hero. More and more he feels that creativity has gone out the window, with few exceptions. As a largely recommendation-driven reader, I was surprised by his description of the sorry state of fantasy fiction. I couldn’t help but think it all sounded familiar. It sounded like the many complaints about games.
We posted previously on who’s to blame for game writing, but my friend’s diatribe, coupled with watching the latest Fantastic Four movie prompted me to offer a different explanation. If a game has a bad story, why is anyone surprised? Look at the examples you have to draw from! Like the old anti-drug commercial, if any fiction or film creators ever ask how the industry learned to create story, you can say we learned it from watching you! Of course all of us can think of great examples of fantasy/science fiction in both fiction and films, but we must realize that these are the exceptions, rather than the rule.
In short, the game industry is not alone. Instead of feeling like the red-headed stepchild of the media, we, the game industry, need to realize those models miss the mark as often, or perhaps more so, than games do when telling a story. As many players and developers who say story doesn’t matter, there are gems within our industry that prove them wrong. So instead of trying to be as good as film or fiction, let’s aim to make the best game stories we can.
Who’s with me?
Guess that game dialog! Today’s line: “I’ve just locked an open door. Strange…but symbolically compelling!”
Check later this week to find out what game it came from!