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#1 Edited by LiquidPrince (16175 posts) -

Listening to the day two game of the year podcasts, I couldn't help but cringe a little whenever someone mentioned that the best video game stories basically amount to the dumbest movie stories. That I think, is a ridiculous sentiment. Jeff's idea of cutting out all gameplay and stitching together the cutscenes is also ridiculous. Video games are a completely different medium then movies, and they take advantage of the fact that they even HAVE game play elements to to tell stories in a completely different way. The idea of stripping out game play and stitching together the cutscenes is like saying you go to a movie and remove all the music and see if that movie still has the same emotional impact, or removing the special effects and watching people running around in front of green screens in their dumb mo cap suits.

You can't just strip out a major element of a medium and use it to compare to another medium. The thing that makes games unique is that they are not just two hours long, but rather multiple hours long, with a level of interactivity not seen in other mediums. A lot of the times, the best games reveal their stories during game play sequences, not just during cutscenes. In fact, that was one of the reasons that Uncharted was so fantastic; it took all those scenes that would normally have just been cutscenes in other games, and made them interactive. To remove the interactive element of a game in a medium where much of the actual story is conveyed during game play is... just a weird notion.

I believe that video games have the potential to make better stories. In fact, I personally would go as far as saying that some of the most emotionally resonant stories that I have experienced have been in video games. Sure there is a lot of garbage out there in video games, but there is a ton of garbage out there when it comes to movies and books as well. Bad story telling doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the medium it's presented in.

#2 Posted by HatKing (6109 posts) -

I haven't listened to it yet. I have a bit of a drive tomorrow and I might listen then (though I feel like I should probably power through Last of Us first). But I have a feeling I'll be cringing a lot when that conversation comes up.

Also, I totally agree with you. I've had lengthy debates and conversations about the differences in mediums. I even wrote a bit about this topic exactly back when the Uncharted movie was in the headlines. Mediums are significant because of their differences. It's important to note that whenever experiencing one or the other.

#3 Posted by JZ (2125 posts) -

Welcome to my thread from a week ago.

#4 Edited by JasonR86 (9726 posts) -

The problem I have with game stories is that most simply provide a rationale for the gameplay. Most game stories are shallow with characters that are flat and unchanging. That's not to say there aren't exceptions or that movies, TV, books don't have these problems either. But, without comparing games to other mediums, that's the problem I have with them. Last of Us stands out because its characters are complex and relationships are dynamic. Brothers stands out because of how it ties gameplay to the emotion in scenes. Year Walk stands out because of how it uses the platform it is on to relay the hidden depths of the story. But they are still exceptions. But, they are less rare then they used to be.

#5 Edited by JZ (2125 posts) -

http://www.giantbomb.com/forums/general-discussion-30/the-story-was-good-for-a-videogame-thing-has-to-st-1463624/

#6 Posted by Fear_the_Booboo (586 posts) -

I think he is partially right. Most people this year will agree that Last of Us' story is the best of the year but, looking at it, the player has no agenda AT ALL in it. The gameplay actually detracts from it I think, while the game acknowledge that your a monster, the fact that you kill over 400 people in a videogamy way just does not make sense. I felt that way at least.

On the other hand, something like Papers, Please, a game they pushed away really fast, has one of the most malleable story of the year.

I think videogame stories will be really great when they acknowledge interactivity. Last of Us is a great story (even by narrative-movie standards), but I don't feel like it is an interactive story at all.

Dunno if I'm clear.

#7 Posted by xaLieNxGrEyx (2605 posts) -

Video Games have already used the medium to tell a better story than what could be done in a movie in a similar style, and it's call "Silent Hill 2"

Came out years ago, did it all correct.

#8 Posted by dr_mantas (2054 posts) -

You're very much right and I agree with you. Jeff has some pretty, I dunno, reserved opinions when it comes to video games.

I'm certain that in fact some of the best experiences, stories, whatever you call them, that have impacted me the most came from video games - precisely because you can interact with them which brings you in that much more. Yes there are crap game stories, but if you take the best game, the best movie and the best book, they can all have a terrific narrative.

#9 Edited by ryanwhom (290 posts) -

The nature of a game requires, for the most part (not for adventure games or games like Gone Home, obviously) is they need a narrative conciet for the gameplay, and gameplay in most games is mowing down hundreds of enemies. So the action movie comparison is a valid one. No, The Last of Us isnt Transformers and no he wasnt saying that. But it sure as shit isnt Citizen Kane. Its more Dawn of the Dead, which was a solid movie for the action but the execution of the characters and occasional brutality of the situation is what set that movie apart from a hundred other zombie movies. It still didnt win any Oscars nor should it have, its not made for that crowd. Movies like The Road win awards, and The Last of US is essentially The Road but without the lead killing 100 people to infer his personality or the severity of the situation. He only kills one person in the whole book or film to indicate the same exact message. The mediums are different.

You're choosing to take what he said as a pajorative but games arent movies and books. They all do different things more effectively, if one did everything better then you wouldnt need the other 2. Movies will always have an easier time telling a good story and books will always have an easier time writing solid characters. The nature of having control, conversely, allows for many other things those other mediums can't do. That was his point. They dont need to be in parity with film, they need to lay on the strengths of the medium to stand out, not ape other mediums.

#10 Edited by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

I'm arguing pretty much the exact same thing in the article comments. Granted, I'm doing it to say that BioShock Infinite doesn't have a good story, which probably explains the arguments I'm having.

#11 Edited by Sooty (8082 posts) -

The dumbest thing so far is excusing BioShock Infinite's mundane combat (90% of the game) just because the first hour and a half looks cool before descending into gloomy corridor shooting.

and saying they saved or reinvigorated Assassin's Creed is insane to me, Black Flag is more of the same but slightly better.

#12 Edited by Kevin_Cogneto (1169 posts) -

I think the point they were all making (not just Jeff) is that a game like The Last of Us, which is widely held as some of the best storytelling the medium has produced, would at best just be considered a very good genre piece if it had been a film or a novel; akin to something like The Dark Knight or Skyfall, which both have fantastic and well-told stories, but they're not saying anything particularly deep or meaningful.

So at best, video games are capable of telling a story on the level of The Dark Knight, but they're incapable (thusfar) of telling a story on the level of The Godfather or To Kill a Mockingbird. Games have a long way to go yet, and personally I think they'll get there in time. But let's not settle.

#13 Edited by BaconGames (3576 posts) -

It's weird because I think games can legitimately get away with having story and gameplay not mesh if they outright don't conflict or the player chooses not interpreted it that way. In some ways it's a question of varying interpretations of how well gameplay and story aren't perfectly intertwined but definitely appreciating when it is there. I don't think we get anywhere though by holding games to the impossible high standard of making story and gameplay fit perfectly every time in order for the story to matter or make sense.

Ultimately though it's subjective but I think that's what makes it interesting and valuable to talk about. I agree that just ignoring or stripping out the gameplay does a disservice to how games tell stories but I also find it compelling to consider the legitimacy of ignoring the gameplay despite knowing that if I wanted to really be a crank, I could argue that the gameplay makes no sense and tear down the story.

One example is the weird mercenary murder that goes unaddressed in a lot of games but at some point, that's me taking every accidental hit and run in an open world game as canon. There's something to be said about the video gamey-ness of it all but it's all where you draw the line. One point to both however is that each "video gamey" element are subject to their own historical comparisons which may make them increasingly less and less excusable.

#14 Posted by Vod_Crack (752 posts) -

@sooty said:

The dumbest thing so far is excusing BioShock Infinite's mundane combat (90% of the game) just because the first hour and a half looks cool before descending into gloomy corridor shooting.

Word!

#15 Posted by SecondPersonShooter (619 posts) -

@sooty said:

The dumbest thing so far is excusing BioShock Infinite's mundane combat (90% of the game) just because the first hour and a half looks cool before descending into gloomy corridor shooting.

Word!

It really sucks that my favorite game of 2013 has becoming the the thing that people like to loudly and unabashedly hate 100% of the time.


I don't really get when this turnaround happened.

#16 Edited by liquidsnakegfer9 (164 posts) -

While I don't think that all video game stories are shit, I think in recent years with the influx of indie development we've had, we've seen some of the potential games have to deliver a good story. Honestly though I have to side with Jeff, because as a person who is a pretty big fan of movies and stuff, I have only played about 10ish games that had a story that even came within a 100 miles of being on the same level of impact and meaning to me as some of my favorite films.

However I do love video games, just usually for reasons other than their stories. Gameplay and graphics have evolved significantly since the infancy of the medium of games. Storytelling in video games is just in its infancy because video games are really fucking young compared to other mediums. So you know games will evolve and they will get better, but they haven't reached the level of a movie like 2001 yet.

#17 Posted by Dallas_Raines (2221 posts) -

Developers invite the comparison to film by using cut scenes as a storytelling crutch. When the stories are completely integrated into the gameplay, then the medium can stand on it's own.

#18 Posted by Vod_Crack (752 posts) -

@secondpersonshooter: It happened when I first played it back in March. Sorry for not loving the same games you love.

#19 Posted by Oldirtybearon (4886 posts) -

@xalienxgreyx said:

Video Games have already used the medium to tell a better story than what could be done in a movie in a similar style, and it's call "Silent Hill 2"

Came out years ago, did it all correct.

I have to agree. It's the game that taught me that this medium can be something more than it was/is.

I think the major thing to consider is that while great stories in video games are rare, they neglect to mention that great stories are rare in general. A lot of movies, tv, books, whatever are filler. That's why when a Watchmen or A Serious Man happens it's a special thing. Not all stories need to be special, and not all games need to be emotionally exhausting experiences. Appreciate these things when they come around but don't spend all your time lamenting the fact that there aren't an ocean of them.

#20 Edited by TowerSixteen (544 posts) -

I dunno, maybe when games churn out a single masterpiece at the level of the masterpieces of film (or books, but maybe that's too optimistic for now), then this could stop. Problem is it hasn't, as far as I know. If things like the Last of Us do represent the current pinnacle, and I'm not sure that's true but it may be, then I'm not sure the age of "For a game" can really be said to be over (Though we're definitely making progress!). I don't even think TLoU could even be said to be on quite the same level as a Dark Knight or Skyfall, as someone above suggested.

#21 Posted by Bell_End (1203 posts) -

@sooty said:

The dumbest thing so far is excusing BioShock Infinite's mundane combat (90% of the game) just because the first hour and a half looks cool before descending into gloomy corridor shooting.

and saying they saved or reinvigorated Assassin's Creed is insane to me, Black Flag is more of the same but slightly better.

and ni nu kuni. first 2 hours great story then its 90% below average JRPG guff.

#22 Edited by liquidsnakegfer9 (164 posts) -

Also I think the whole issue of games failing to mesh with their stories is just an issue with AAA games like bioshock infinite, which didn't really provide any compelling reason as to why it should be a first person shooter from a gameplay and/or a story perspective. It pretty much was an FPS because, as a AAA game with a big budget looking to make some money, it had to be that way and follow conventions in order to attract a mass audience who doesn't give a shit about things like atmosphere in games. Im not badmouthing the design of the combat or the mechanics behind it (I thought it was fun enough to be honest), but seriously it added fucking nothing to the story and atmosphere they created with that world.

#23 Posted by 5Figh (172 posts) -

Just reiterating what I posted on the podcast but I didn't like the cutoff that happened at the end of the argument. I felt like they were really getting somewhere in terms of defining their specific feelings on the debate and then it just kind of stopped

#24 Posted by StarvingGamer (8555 posts) -

It's weird because I think games can legitimately get away with having story and gameplay not mesh if they outright don't conflict or are not interpreted that way. In some ways it's a question of varying interpretations of gameplay and story not necessarily being married perflect versus appreciating when it is there. I don't think we get anywhere though by holding games to the impossible high standard of making story and gameplay fit perfectly every time in order for the story to matter or make sense.

Sometimes I feel like video games should be compared to theatre rather than movies. Movies are more or less an unlimited medium, you can do whatever the fuck you want so verisimilitude is stupidly easy to accomplish. In theatre, however, you are constrained to a set, props, realistic costume changes in real-time, and so there's a tacit agreement that the audience will exercise a degree of suspension of disbelief and accept that even though you clearly shoved the sword under his armpit, he is in fact dead.

Similarly, many video games are forced to operate within the constraints of "fun" gameplay. Tomb Raider was one of the biggest sticking points for this that I can recall. The gameplay was fucking fun, but all anyone could do was cry "ludonarrative dissonance" because it was "unrealistic" for her to be murdering all these dudes. What people need to realize is that they are essentially arguing that we are only allowed to have games with a lot of killing if the main character is a sociopath/soldier and we are only allowed to have a character with nuance/not a soldier if the game is 90% exploration and maybe 10% shooting dudes. That sounds incredibly boring to me.

Video games players need a little more suspension of disbelief.

@sooty said:

The dumbest thing so far is excusing BioShock Infinite's mundane combat (90% of the game) just because the first hour and a half looks cool before descending into gloomy corridor shooting.

Word!

I'll just quote myself from my conversation with @video_game_king in today's awards article.

@video_game_king: Well, I haven't listened to the podcast so I don't know if they gave Infinite runner-up despite its gameplay, but like anything it's subjective. I won't argue that the gameplay was so strong that it added to the story, but in my experience it wasn't so poor that it detracted from the story either.

When I think about Infinite, I don't remember the times when I thought, "man I really don't want to fight another Handyman right now". I remember the way my brain felt at "Hallelujah", every time the Lutece twins showed up, as I watched that circle in the wall slowly closing, and the only other games that came anywhere close to that were, appropriately, The Last of Us and Gone Home (and Dual Destinies).

#25 Posted by Fredchuckdave (6153 posts) -

Jeff is right, though there are occasional exceptions (and a lot of the exceptions are from more than 7 years ago). Spec Ops: The Line is probably the best story in a game that shouldn't have a good story which would also work wonders in cinematic form, but that is one game.

#26 Posted by AlmostSwedish (627 posts) -

If they are going to have a "best story" category, they need to actually start playing the games with the best stories. Like Kentucky Route Zero, Save the Date and other smaller stuff that don't get the coverage of bigger games.

#27 Posted by TowerSixteen (544 posts) -

Jeff is right, though there are occasional exceptions (and a lot of the exceptions are from more than 7 years ago). Spec Ops: The Line is probably the best story in a game that shouldn't have a good story which would also work wonders in cinematic form, but that is one game.

Aye, this guy has it right. Spec:Ops is probably the best case for that argument, if you wanna make it, much more than TLoU.

#28 Posted by TobbRobb (4844 posts) -

Well you know. I also wholeheartedly agree that games have the potential and the ability to create emotional resonance in story from a completely different perspective than movies and books.

Now the real question is, has any games really done so effectively? How is the quality of writing average out in the best emotionall resonant games? Can you take a common example of a universally loved video game story, and then honestly tell me the gameplay not only doesn't hinder it, but even ADDS to it? Games have the potential, and it has even worked a few, very few times. But compared to the sheer amount of quality stories in other media, games just fall flat. I'm not comparing the crap to other crap, sine that's something all media has. Just the top tier, the cremé of the crop, there just isn't that much of it. Games really have a long way to go when it comes to story.

That said, I love video games and their stories. It's just trashy entertainment. I have a lot of fun with the silliness that bad writing brings. I ENJOY a lot of video game stories, I just don't think they are good. See the distinction? There is no reason to kid myself by calling any of it "excellent" or even "good" a lot of the time.

#29 Posted by Vod_Crack (752 posts) -

@vod_crack said:

@sooty said:

The dumbest thing so far is excusing BioShock Infinite's mundane combat (90% of the game) just because the first hour and a half looks cool before descending into gloomy corridor shooting.

Word!

I'll just quote myself from my conversation with @video_game_king in today's awards article.

@starvinggamer said:

@video_game_king: Well, I haven't listened to the podcast so I don't know if they gave Infinite runner-up despite its gameplay, but like anything it's subjective. I won't argue that the gameplay was so strong that it added to the story, but in my experience it wasn't so poor that it detracted from the story either.

When I think about Infinite, I don't remember the times when I thought, "man I really don't want to fight another Handyman right now". I remember the way my brain felt at "Hallelujah", every time the Lutece twins showed up, as I watched that circle in the wall slowly closing, and the only other games that came anywhere close to that were, appropriately, The Last of Us and Gone Home (and Dual Destinies).

I am the complete opposite of you. When I think about BioShock: Infinite, the very first thing I think about is the act of playing the game, which I didn't enjoy very much. I respect that it has a great story but at the end of the day, it's a first-person shooter and the bit where you shoot people is sub-par. I find it strange how many people can ignore the bit where you play the game, just because they enjoyed the story and setting so much. Fair play if that doesn't bother you but I am a very gameplay focused gamer and BioShock Infinite is not my cup of tea.

#30 Posted by StarvingGamer (8555 posts) -

@starvinggamer said:

Well, I haven't listened to the podcast so I don't know if they gave Infinite runner-up despite its gameplay, but like anything it's subjective. I won't argue that the gameplay was so strong that it added to the story, but in my experience it wasn't so poor that it detracted from the story either.

When I think about Infinite, I don't remember the times when I thought, "man I really don't want to fight another Handyman right now". I remember the way my brain felt at "Hallelujah", every time the Lutece twins showed up, as I watched that circle in the wall slowly closing, and the only other games that came anywhere close to that were, appropriately, The Last of Us and Gone Home (and Dual Destinies).

I am the complete opposite of you. When I think about BioShock: Infinite, the very first thing I think about is the act of playing the game, which I didn't enjoy very much. I respect that it has a great story but at the end of the day, it's a first-person shooter and the bit where you shoot people is sub-par. I find it strange how many people can ignore the bit where you play the game, just because they enjoyed the story and setting so much. Fair play if that doesn't bother you but I am a very gameplay focused gamer and BioShock Infinite is not my cup of tea.

I'd be curious to know, did you play Infinite with a controller?

#31 Posted by Vod_Crack (752 posts) -

@starvinggamer: Yes, I played it on the Xbox 360. I didn't have any problems with the controls though.

#32 Edited by Hunkulese (2875 posts) -

Video games are just a terrible medium for telling stories. To tell a great story you need to have complete control over your audience and you can't do that in a videogame. I've yet experienced a great videogame story due to this disconnect.

That's why it's perfectly acceptable to say something has a good story for a videogame.

#33 Edited by Hunter5024 (5964 posts) -

This is a giant pet peeve of mine. I've seen the movies that are supposedly masterpieces, and I don't like them, I think most of them are really boring. If you look at the current output of other media, then you see just as much garbage as you see in games. Having people who seem to consciously prefer the mechanics of games rather than their narrative aspirations come along and act dismissive of stories they haven't even experienced drives me crazy. I think people just need to stop comparing, because that adds absolutely nothing to the conversation about a story. It just reminds me of comparing review scores.

#34 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

This is a giant pet peeve of mine. I've seen the movies that are supposedly masterpieces, and I don't like them, I think most of them are really boring.

The classics are far from perfect. A good portion of the time, they're only classics because such accolades serve a social function.

#35 Edited by BaconGames (3576 posts) -

@starvinggamer: I agree with your analogy but in another sense it does not necessarily mean suspension of disbelief is always earned. I think over time standards change and while in years past a sword through the arm pit was acceptable, it's harder and harder to take at face value, assuming the production is not a farce, another sword through the armpit. As I said, I think it's worth discussing precisely because this is one of the most subjective aspects of games but in general I think it's necessary to consider the long view when criticizing games for not earning that suspension of disbelief nowadays.

The consequence of all this I find is games more explicitly taking this into consideration and making the mesh more of a concern while others are more explicitly not and taking full advantage of the disbelief and embracing its video gamey-ness. Ultimately the higher standard in this respect has created a greater range of valid games and reactions which I can't not think is a good thing. In other words, games are evolving over time in a way that seems totally logical and natural when looking back at what came before.

#36 Posted by TobbRobb (4844 posts) -

@vod_crack said:
@starvinggamer said:

Well, I haven't listened to the podcast so I don't know if they gave Infinite runner-up despite its gameplay, but like anything it's subjective. I won't argue that the gameplay was so strong that it added to the story, but in my experience it wasn't so poor that it detracted from the story either.

When I think about Infinite, I don't remember the times when I thought, "man I really don't want to fight another Handyman right now". I remember the way my brain felt at "Hallelujah", every time the Lutece twins showed up, as I watched that circle in the wall slowly closing, and the only other games that came anywhere close to that were, appropriately, The Last of Us and Gone Home (and Dual Destinies).

I am the complete opposite of you. When I think about BioShock: Infinite, the very first thing I think about is the act of playing the game, which I didn't enjoy very much. I respect that it has a great story but at the end of the day, it's a first-person shooter and the bit where you shoot people is sub-par. I find it strange how many people can ignore the bit where you play the game, just because they enjoyed the story and setting so much. Fair play if that doesn't bother you but I am a very gameplay focused gamer and BioShock Infinite is not my cup of tea.

I'd be curious to know, did you play Infinite with a controller?

I'll just add that I share his sentiment to the letter and used mouse and keyboard. So either way we have the ground covered. XD

#37 Posted by StarvingGamer (8555 posts) -

@starvinggamer: Yes, I played it on the Xbox 360. I didn't have any problems with the controls though.

I asked because I'm a more gameplay focused player as well. My three favorite games are Final Fantasy Tactics, Starcraft II, and Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, and my personal GotY this year was Fire Emblem: Awakening. I played Infinite with a mouse and keyboard and while it didn't blow my mind, I found it to be competently fun for the most part, but it seems like exactly the worst sort of shooter to play with a controller.

#38 Posted by Hunter5024 (5964 posts) -

@hunter5024 said:

This is a giant pet peeve of mine. I've seen the movies that are supposedly masterpieces, and I don't like them, I think most of them are really boring.

The classics are far from perfect. A good portion of the time, they're only classics because such accolades serve a social function.

I've also seen a lot of their faults brushed aside due to their age, and a lot of them only seem to be classics for how they pushed forward the medium rather than how good their story actually was. I just don't understand this mentality that the best stories in other mediums have somehow eclipsed everything that games have ever done, especially for film. If someone wanted to bust out some novels on me I might be able to see where he's coming from slightly better.

#39 Posted by dr_mantas (2054 posts) -

When someone asks where is the Schindler's List, the Citizen Kane of video games?

I can reply: Where is the Portal of movies? Where is the Bastion of books? The World of Goo of theatre productions? Silly questions

Such different media. All amazing.

Enjoy.

#40 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

If someone wanted to bust out some novels on me I might be able to see where he's coming from slightly better.

Oh, hell no. I had novels in mind when I was making that last comment. You think something like [INSERT GAME HERE, MAYBE FINAL FANTASY OR SOMETHING] is needlessly didactic and obvious? Try reading some Uncle Tom's Cabin.

#41 Posted by BaconGames (3576 posts) -

Also while I think we all understand what they mean when they talk about "story" in games, I think story is a larger category than they treat it here. At some point, characters, dialogue, plot, and player experience can all be construed as story in games. Nothing else makes sense because after all if we just look at the passive elements that define other mediums, i.e. everthing minus player experience, then we're missing a huge chunk of how games convey story, progression, struggle, conclusion, and frankly all those other elements. Is it always perfect? Far from it and many games only shine in certain aspects but the final thing I will say to this end is that the experience of just being the player and moving through the story can be just as compelling as the plot or dialogue on paper. Papers, Please and Mario 3D World are two great examples of that.

#42 Posted by golguin (4045 posts) -

Vinny was thinking of a game that could be called the Citizen Kane of video game stories. That game was last year's The Walking Dead. Why? Because it made you care about characters in a way that NO MOVIE could ever hope to achieve. 2-3 hour isn't enough time to get attached to any characters and no movie can make you feel like you were in control of those characters even if you really weren't.

#43 Posted by Hunter5024 (5964 posts) -

@hunter5024 said:

If someone wanted to bust out some novels on me I might be able to see where he's coming from slightly better.

Oh, hell no. I had novels in mind when I was making that last comment. You think something like [INSERT GAME HERE, MAYBE FINAL FANTASY OR SOMETHING] is needlessly didactic and obvious? Try reading some Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Like I said: slightly better.

#44 Posted by Animasta (14723 posts) -

When someone asks where is the Schindler's List, the Citizen Kane of video games?

I can reply: Where is the Portal of movies? Where is the Bastion of books? The World of Goo of theatre productions? Silly questions

Such different media. All amazing.

Enjoy.

I would watch a theatrical production of world of goo

Online
#45 Posted by Microshock (342 posts) -

Video game stories are still pretty bad overall but are given leeway for being bad at them because they're videogames. Beyond Two Souls is an example. Terrible story, dialogue, characters, etc and if it was a movie it'd be utterly panned.

#46 Posted by High_Nunez (214 posts) -

I'm sorry, but I think it's crazy anyone really gets so emotional over video games. I have NEVER played a video game, including Last of Us, which I think is stellar (for a video game, ha, sorry?) that can, on average, compare to film, and novels. It really is comparing apples to oranges. Every time I come upon a thread expressing effusive praise for The Walking Dead, Brothers, Spec Ops, or whatever other okay games that people talk about crying over, I just think it's weird. I can totally understand Jeff's sentiments, I think, I haven't actually listened to the specific podcast, but c'mon, he's been saying it for years. But hey, different strokes n' all that, I guess.

#47 Posted by Ramone (2976 posts) -

I just don't understand why there has to be this constant comparison to novels and movies when people talk about video game stories. They are inherently different. The most apt comparison for most games is to TV series for a start. Even then, the differences between interacting with a narrative and simply observing it means that trying to say one is better than the other is almost impossible.

#48 Posted by HockeyJohnston (76 posts) -

Sometimes I feel like video games should be compared to theatre rather than movies. Movies are more or less an unlimited medium, you can do whatever the fuck you want so verisimilitude is stupidly easy to accomplish. In theatre, however, you are constrained to a set, props, realistic costume changes in real-time, and so there's a tacit agreement that the audience will exercise a degree of suspension of disbelief and accept that even though you clearly shoved the sword under his armpit, he is in fact dead.

This is totally right, but I'd go farther. It's like opera!

Which is to say that the medium isn't really positioned to tell the best possible stories, but it does have a bunch of tools available to make the audience feel something unique and powerful. The whole thing has to be built on abstraction (like you said) to get the various pieces (music, plot, performance) working together.

Basically, the audience is there for the beautiful music and a smattering of narrative stuff on top. That's how I feel about games. I care mostly about the mechanics, and the connective tissue that makes it 'a story' needs to serve the needs of the game rather than the other way around.

#49 Edited by BaconAndWaffles (72 posts) -

What I really wish is that people would stop comparing storytelling across different media. It is very much an apples-to-oranges-to-bananas, etc... scenario.

I do think it is mostly true that the best video game stories would be worse than most movie stories if made into a movie, but that is not how or why they were constructed. Of course it would be worse. Movie scripts are (generally speaking) sold a books to read, and books made into movies are word-for-word the same.

With that out of the way, I think the issue with video game storytelling comes down to personal perspective. I can't role play to save my life. I enjoy RPGs, but I don't put myself into the role, I don't play a character. It doesn't work that way for me - I wish it did. My game play enjoyment comes primarily from mechanics, and story tends to take a back seat. For some people games are about the story, for some it is about the visuals, and for those like me it is about the game play. Nothing wrong with any of those (or any combination thereof...).

#50 Posted by Milkman (17320 posts) -

I just don't get how he kept saying that Infinite is just a dumb, roller coaster thrill ride and then still left it on the list. It should have been cut for something else if that's all it is.

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