A writer’s job is to convey story, character and emotion — and 2007 has proven gamers are ready to take their story just about any way you can ship it. While more and more games are being complimented on strong story, few have pointed out how game writing itself is evolving. The term narrative design has been somewhat maligned, but clearly story, character and emotion can no longer solely rely on dialog. In 2008 we predict we’ll see not only a greater respect for game story, but more interesting and innovative ways to convey it.
Here are some 2007 games that pushed the envelope on narrative design:
Portal – Known for creating an endearing character out of an inanimate object
The Witcher – Players agonized over moral decisions with no clear answers. Many clamored for more dialog rather than less. Others tried repeatedly to safeguard a dog that followed the main character around for hours.
Sam & Max: Season One – Combined humor with a strong theme to keep players coming back for the next episode
Bioshock – Used art and the environment to tell the story
And of course, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) will premiere its first game writing award in 2008. That, and the WGA strike is driving story-loving viewers right into the game industry’s arms.
These trends will put story in games front and center in 2008, so be ready! Do you have good story and writing embedded in your game design? If not, what’s holding you back?