Gamasutra recently published my Letter to the Editor, though the title (see above) got shortened. Recent features like “Why We Need More Boring Games” have made fun seem the evil stepsister. Why is fun anathema to education? Is there such a dichotomy? Why can’t we have serious games that are informative AND entertaining? There is no need to dub all serious games as boring games.
As game writers, we believe that good stories and dialog can only make your game better — even if it’s a serious game. Stories are part of the pull that allow players to suspend disbelief and enjoy the game. Designers and writers who acknowledge the importance of fun have learned how to take care of the so-called boring bits.
Consider exposition and back story. There’s always a bit of trickiness getting all that information out to the player, viewer, or reader. Still, writers and designers have learned ways to impart that information in ways that do not have to be boring, monotone lectures. It’s a choice. For certain, if this information is useful in progressing in the game, then the player will welcome this exposition. As a player, would you rather listen to a really long monologue or receive information (exposition) that helps you win the game?
Serious games perhaps have even a stronger call to be fun games since they must draw in non-gamers and reluctant players. Design and gameplay are of course important elements to fun, but so too are narrative and dialog.
What’s your take on the subject?
Last Monday’s game dialog was spoken by a merchant from the game Dreamfall.