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#51 Posted by NTM (7605 posts) -

@chemystery said:

@ntm: I think my real issue is that I thought that game was going to tackle some really interesting topics and it just fizzled out on it. I thought they were going to talk about the whole trauma of being a survivor thing but I didn't get that vibe at all. At no point do you ever have any real reason to question Joel or what he does. I can honestly say if The Last of Us came out in theaters, I would not go see it. It would be another bland zombie movie amongst a trend.

did you even play the game? One of the biggest themes in the last of us is survivors guilt.

Yeah, it's certainly deeper than your average zombie movie, even though there's some aspects (as I've said) that are unoriginal. I kind of feel weird even calling it a zombie-like story since they're not really zombies, and the story is less about the cordyceps, and more about the human side of it. I mean, it is about the survival and how humans try to live their lives in a world where something has gone horribly wrong. It even goes as far to say that perhaps the world is better off without us, at least that's how I saw it.

#52 Edited by Original_Hank (141 posts) -

@xalienxgreyx: I don't think its unfair at all, considering that is part of video games. I think it would be unfair to ignore that. The nature of games allows that to happen and if/when it does it consequently can hurt the narrative. It just can be a disadvantage of the medium, like anything else has its own strengths and weaknesses.

#53 Edited by xaLieNxGrEyx (2605 posts) -

@original_hank said:

@xalienxgreyx: I don't think its unfair at all, considering that is part of video games. I think it would be unfair to ignore that. The nature of games allows that to happen and if/when it does it consequently can hurt the narrative. It just can be a disadvantage of the medium, like anything else has its strengths and weaknesses.

This brings up the ancient Resident Evil argument of "Why doesn't Jill/Chris turn into a Zombie when they get bit?" and the answer, the only answer is, they simply don't. Jill and Chris NEVER get bit by a zombie in Resident Evil 1. If Jill and/or Chris are bit during a playthrough it is due to simple user error and has no effect on the narrative.

It is the same as if you were to train for 10 hours in Final Fantasy before moving on, these actions, these player choices that have no correlation with the story of the game should not, and don't, have a single effect on the games plot and/or narrative.

Gameplay should serve the narrative to develop as it was intended, just as narrative should serve to push the player ahead along with the gameplay. When the two collide in unintentional ways it should not detract from the games ability to tell a story. It should not detract from your ability to enjoy the story.

We should be praising Video Game storytelling and its ability to allow us to interact with our surroundings within an ongoing narrative. It's a new unique way of storytelling, just as film and literature differ and have their very own strengths to accommodate their purpose in existing. I enjoy story telling in film, novels, and video games equally, to judge the story on its own merit, regardless of its choice of medium.

#54 Edited by HH (679 posts) -

@ntm said:

It even goes as far to say that perhaps the world is better off without us, at least that's how I saw it.

yep, and the fact that we're now living in the corporate-state world that first alienates Joel makes it all the more relevant and thought provoking.

but taking the Last of Us as an example, and forgiving the game-play elements that require suspension of disbelief, i think the story is executed brilliantly and is worthy of consideration in those terms alongside good literature and smart movies.

BUT the fact is, even being wholly appreciative of that, there were games i preferred this year, because of various other concerns, and to me, and I'm sure many others, stories in games could always take second place to these other concerns, be they game-play, or game-worlds, or interaction with other players, or whatever.

to me the real potential for storytelling in games lies with titles like FTL, and Eve Online, and other open-ended games, where the player is given responsibility for what happens, and what happens is unique to them. This is something that books and movies have no access to, and at the same time it does not rule out opportunities for in-depth characterization or writing in the world that's established.

If The Last of Us achieved greatness in storytelling this year, as far as I can see it really didn't make a huge amount of difference, because many of us are already preoccupied with our own role in these games, our own persona and influence, and I think it would be an opportunity missed if more developers didn't start taking advantage of that.

#55 Posted by xaLieNxGrEyx (2605 posts) -

@hh: There's room for both takes on interactive storytelling imo

#56 Edited by thomasnash (601 posts) -

@deadpancakes said:
...Naturally. Video games have existed for a fraction of the time. It's only recently that games have attempted to deliver interesting stories, and I honestly don't think the stories of major games are that good yet (many are heavy handed or melodramatic). That being said, the delivery of a story similar to what movies and books can do isn't necessarily what games set out to do. And when people who don't realize this say "for a game-" that can annoy me at times.

Hard not to think of the bit in bold as a bit of a cop out. The European novel tradition is said to have begun with Don Quixote. Some of the earliest literary artifacts of various nations include The Iliad and Odyssey, The Aeneid, The Canterbury Tales and Beowulf.

If anything I would say that if videogames were following the same trajectory as most art forms, you would expect the stories to have been locked down first, and the technical aspects to come later, Where literary traditions and forms seem to come to us fully formed (admittedly, with a long and unknown oral tradition to refine it), Art which relies more obviously on technical skill has a more obviously teleological trajectory - Fine Art moves from cave paintings to silhouettes on grecian urns, to those slightly strange, perspective free medieval paintings, to the discovery of perspective in the Renaissance. Music moves from chanting to polyphony to symphony.

The technical development of videogames does mirror these "technical" art forms, but differs from then in that the storytelling in these forms was still fairly fully featured - the technique needed to catch up to the stories (a complication, of course, is that post-renaissance the storytelling of, eg, painting, becomes more complicated when emotion is added to the mix of allegory and representation, I suppose proving that calling the storytelling "fully-formed" is too simplistic. Perhaps a better thing to say is that the stories stood up on their own, perhaps as they had been cribbed from literature and myth). With games it is the other way around.

With all that said, all this points to is that the second part of your post is correct, I think - Games need to be doing something different from Films. I would suggest that the problem with video game stories is mostly that they crib liberally from films, and the overall quality of stories for the mass market is quite low anyway these days. an added feature of the historical moment which prevents games from reaching their dizzying heights - whereas the renaissance painters and composers of baroque operas had the greatest stories of human history to choose from, the best modern stories are withheld from the video game industry by copyright law, and the fact that the film industry offers greater rewards, the literary, greater respect. This is all compounded by the fact that modern games look a lot like films, so the comparison jumps at you immediately.

I suspect that once games find their own idiom and language the disparity will melt away, especially as creative people who don't have the negative opinion of video games start making choices about where they want to expend their energy. You can already see a lot of experiments towards finding the unique language of games and how the experience can shape the story either didactically, as with the empathy games we've been seeing this year, or through emergent interactions with the game systems.

EDIT: Just a few tl;dr read notes: I can't think of a game story that would stand up on it's own, but that's a result of a particular historical context more than a deficiency of the medium.

#57 Posted by Jimbo (10056 posts) -

If that caveat is off-limits then get used to reading 'the story was bad' a lot.

#58 Edited by Fattony12000 (7632 posts) -
Elite - 20 September, 1984
Metal Gear Solid - 3 September, 1998
Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn - 24 September, 2000
Journey - 13 March, 2012

Video game stories can be as good/bad/enjoyable/heart-wrenching/funny/sad as anything else that's been created within a particular medium. A book isn't a film. A film isn't a video game. Just because most video game stories aren't totally dope yet doesn't mean that there aren't dope stories out there in video games. There are quite a few video games these days.

We are still real early days in figuring out this crazy combination of gameplay and story, a sick mashup which hasn't existed for the thousands of years that the written word has.

#59 Posted by TruthTellah (9531 posts) -

This thread is decent for a videogame thread.

#60 Edited by Baal_Sagoth (1320 posts) -

Definitely an attitude I disagree with pretty severly. Though it usually amuses me more than it pisses me off.

First, I agree with the idea that videogame stories aren't neccessarily less excellent than other media when it comes to narrative techniques but simply newer, so the pool of what you might consider truly excellent is naturally more shallow. Some are a little short-sighted and look down on games due to that error. To me that's practically irrelevant since I'm not going to live long enough to appreciate even a fraction of the great stuff out there anyway.

Second, some commentators or critics show their cluelessness or limited view on these other media more than they verbalize an apt critique of games. To give and example (without wanting to to really attack anyone): the way GB's own Brad sometimes talks about "well-made" works is hilarious to me. That hasn't really been a particularly valid argument for more than a hundred years. Because fuck plays that don't resolve in a day, have a three-act-structure and follow proper rising and falling action. Fuck novels that don't have a traditional beginning, middle and ending and don't employ beautiful prose (Really, Faulkner you dipshit? Writing an incoherent mess about a retard sexual predator? What were you thinking?). And don't get me started on that Baudelaire cocksucker and his love for the weird and morbid. Poems talk about unrequited love, melancholy and beautiful meditations on nature. Oh and they always rhyme! But you didn't know that, did you, ya uneducated French bastard! Media are allowed to follow their own aesthetic rules. One can dislike them but one cannot say that one ruleset is better than another.

Third, some really lack respect for games' unique properties. The OP touched on this already. Saying a game has a good story for a highly interactive medium makes about as much sense as saying a movie has a good story for a linear medium. Funnily enough, speaking of my personal preferences, that's exactly how I feel about far too many movies. But that's hardly a broad attack on movies but simply an indicator that I prefer games to just about any other media in a lot of cases.

But really, I think that attitude isn't all that harmful and doesn't need to stop. It's going to be extra ammunition for people that already don't respect games rather than a deterrent for people that are open to them. Eventually, good insight will come from these discussions. Finally, I suspect many game critics (for example Jeff) merely employ that attitude to clarify they're humble about the importance of games and not absolute, close-minded fanatics. That's a good thing!

#61 Posted by McLargepants (407 posts) -

Games are probably my favorite form of entertainment, and they have the potential to tell amazing stories, but most games don't set out to do that. They put gameplay first and that's absolutely fine, it works for games. But when you say it's "good for a video game" you're just saying what quality of story it hangs with, certainly there are a handful that rise above this (recently Gone Home, The Last of Us, The Witcher 2), but pacing (one of the most important aspects of good storytelling) is TERRIBLE in video games. So yeah, some games rise above just being a good video game story, and if they get consistently better, maybe that header won't be needed anymore. 15 years ago, story was "good for TV", now after the sheer number of amazing television experiences in that time, you don't hear that so often. So let game stories get better, and this was a pretty great year for well told, well paced and well imagined stories, but they need to be good as experienced, not when explained in a 20 minute youtube video.

As for books being better than their movie counterparts, of course they are. Source material is almost always better than their adaptations because they were imagined for a particular format, and when making an adaption, concessions have to be made. I like the The Lord of the Rings written by Tolkien much better than filmed by P. Jackson because I don't like what he did with some of my favorite characters. Am I snobbish for holding that opinion? Is my opinion wrong because it's different from yours? Catching Fire was better as a movie, so it's not always the case.

#62 Posted by ToTheNines (871 posts) -

I find in recent time that stories in video games are usually better than those in movies, maybe its because the format is longer. Books are different though.

#63 Edited by DonChipotle (2876 posts) -

I dunno, I've yet to play a video game that told a better story than some of my favorite movies. I mean, when you really think about it, Blue Is The Warmest Colour is really just Gone Home but better. And French.

#64 Posted by Atlas (2461 posts) -

I think part of the problem is that, in many ways, what constitutes a good story is much more subjective than what constitutes good mechanics. A lot of people cite Gone Home as a mature, thoughtful, and boldly brilliant game narrative, whereas I found the game's story to be a bunch of adolescent, naval-gazing, simplistic horse-shit. And that's fine that people can disagree on these things, but saying that one side is wrong or snobbish is not going to get us anywhere. A lot of people who are very critical of game stories do so because they love the medium, and want game stories to be better.

Personally, I often find the most engaging and fulfilling video game narratives to be the ones that I myself had total agency in or even created myself, such as games with player created characters and games designed around roleplaying. Crusader Kings II has zero structured narrative, and is one of the best examples of video game storytelling that I can think of. The problem for me is that a lot of games are too infatuated with films and try to ape the cinematic style to a fault, which goes against what video games are best at. So few games integrate cinematic narrative and immersive gameplay in a satisfying manner; The Last of Us gets it exactly right in a number of ways but still trips over its own feet for the sake of the cinematic experience on several occasions.

Gamers should read more books. Everybody should read more books; I know I definitely should.

#65 Edited by geirr (2739 posts) -

It's fine to be upset by things but if you actually read books you might see why they're generally better than movie or game counterparts for the simple fact that books create and expand universes while games and movies delve into fractions of them - usually the fraction Hollywood or say EA thinks will bring them the most cash - which usually means (in the case of movies) 1 hour of explosions and rollercoasting through special effects, some banter between over-payed actors, and pompous music scores (add more hours of the same for games). While this is fun and all, if you really like what you see on screen and want to know more about it's story and universe and characters - where do you go? To books. Some people might go to special features on a blu-ray or DVD but c'mon: books are better if you want to "geek out."

If you don't care and had a blast watching the movie or playing some game, that's fine too but don't tell someone who's invested part of their life on a 12 book series that they can shove it if they say the books were better than the 2-hour movie adaptation. Well you can but I'd feel a little dumb if I did. At the same time, they knew going in that the books are better, so they should adjust their expectations - hence the sentence "It was pretty good for a movie/game."

I should add that some games and movies tell amazing original stories but I'm just looking at the mainstream vs. books-mainstream-is-based-upon.

#66 Edited by alwaysbebombing (1692 posts) -

I would agree with OP that saying a video game's story is "good for a video game" isn't the way to look at the medium, or any medium really. Every kind of creative work has it's own strengths and flaws; books, films, writing, ect all have parts that make them better in some parts, and worse in others. What I believe it's important to do, that I feel a lot of people do not do, is to "judge" (better way to put it would be 'form an opinion') independent of the medium and entirely and base their thoughts only on the merits of the creative work. Was the story well told? Did it move you? Did it teach you a lesson? Did you enjoy it? I would argue that looking at creative works in that way allows us to enjoy the work more and understand the depth in writing. Anyone can break down a book, movie, game, what have you into extremely basic parts, but often story telling goes so much deeper.

For example, I just finished Solatorobo: Red the Hunter. I have no doubt that people are going to look at it and think "oh it's just some dumb Japanese furry game" or whatever and dismiss it. Or even after playing it, can just see the superficial parts of the story. Solatorobo goes much deeper than that. As some people have been saying, all mediums do have flaws, and Solatorobo's is that to 100% the game, you're going to have to go against the pacing, which feels a little jagged. Obviously the narrative is pushing you in one direction, but you have to pause it for a second to collect all the hidden treasures (and I am one of those crazy people that 100%s games). Once finished though, I choose to ignore that part, and think entirely on the story I was a part of, the lessons I was taught, and the different analytical themes the writers chose to illustrate. A game that touches upon personal meaning, choice and consequence, finding a reason to live, moving past old crimes committed, learning to not seek forgiveness for the unforgivable are all powerful themes in life we can all learn something about.

This is only one example of a great story told through the medium of video games. There are plenty of examples of awful stories told, but so are there for books and films, just in the way there are great examples of each.

Just my two cents :)

#67 Posted by Scampbell (501 posts) -

@darji said:

@original_hank said:

I love video games but straight up I cant think of a single game that has had as good a story as most good books. If you want to take issue with how people say that then alright but I think what they are saying is just the reality of it. Books and film only really have a story to hang their hat on and have been around for a lot longer. They are just more developed art forms in general. Video games are more complex and new they don't have to have a story to be good.

The last of US does this in my opinion. It would be a great movie or book but what it makes it much better is the intensity during gameplay and how tense you are while watching a new cutscene. You care much more about it since you are way more invested. And this is what videogames can take advantage of.

I completely agree, in fact I think when it comes to movies and games of this year, I the best story wasn´t told in a movie but in the Last of Us. That is why I see The Last of Us as milestone for video games, as the first time technology and talent allowed a game to truly beat movies in storytelling.

To me books will still be superior to both in most cases, but I think games will become harder to ignore as serious competition to movies, though it is still stigmatized as something childish. "They’re never going to be the same." Says Spielberg, though I honestly think The Last of Us is better than any movie of his in recent memory.

With the help of the Oculus Rift and other virtual reality devices, who knows what kind of gaming experiences we might have in the future.

#68 Edited by gaminghooligan (1532 posts) -

I like to think that there are enough games out there at this point to warrant discussion on par with some of the great films. I mean what makes the plot of Gears of War any more or less than the plot of the last how ever many Transfomers movies?

#69 Edited by Veektarius (5065 posts) -

I don't think that people mean that video games have bad stories when they say this (I mean, some do, but chances are whoever is saying this plays enough video games to have an informed perspective). What they mean is that the story was enough to tie together enjoyable gameplay but not enough to be memorable on its own. Lots of games are like that. And there are plenty that don't even meet that low bar, so it's not a meaningless remark, either. Having a game that's fun to play is a crutch for weak storytelling that no movie or book can lean on.

#70 Edited by JZ (2120 posts) -
#71 Edited by LackingSaint (1870 posts) -

Will echo the statement that The Last of Us is a great example of excellent storytelling in games.

Will say that anyone who thinks Gone Home actually had an interesting plot is fucking bananas.

#72 Edited by shinjin977 (803 posts) -

@original_hank said:

I love video games but straight up I cant think of a single game that has had as good a story as most good books. If you want to take issue with how people phrase that then alright but I think what they are saying is just the reality of it. Books and film only really have a story to hang their hat on and have been around for a lot longer. They are just more developed art forms in general. Video games are more complex and new. They don't have to have a story to be good.

The problem with that line of thinking good sir, is that a good book paint your imagination. No other form of media can do that because they would rather show you, instead of letting your imagination run wild. Nothing can top your own imagination. I am willing to bet if TLOU was a well written book, we would not be having this conversation. (I am assuming this topic spur from Brad's comment on the podcast?)

#73 Posted by dabe (299 posts) -

The best video game stories are the ones you create yourself. That is not true of film, literature or other similar mediums.

#74 Posted by JZ (2120 posts) -

@probablytuna: when you come out of the theater and say "I really liked that movie" and someone says "oh the book was much better." They are really saying "you're an idiot for enjoying that and I'm a superior person because I read the book before hand."

#75 Edited by SlashDance (1845 posts) -
@shinjin977 said:

@original_hank said:

I love video games but straight up I cant think of a single game that has had as good a story as most good books. If you want to take issue with how people phrase that then alright but I think what they are saying is just the reality of it. Books and film only really have a story to hang their hat on and have been around for a lot longer. They are just more developed art forms in general. Video games are more complex and new. They don't have to have a story to be good.

The problem with that line of thinking good sir, is that a good book paint your imagination. No other form of media can do that because they would rather show you, instead of letting your imagination run wild. Nothing can top your own imagination. I am willing to bet if TLOU was a well written book, we would not be having this conversation. (I am assuming this topic spur from Brad's comment on the podcast?)

That argument has some merits, but it doesn't apply to movies, and I think there are way more good stories in movies than in video games, and the best stories ever told in movies are infinitely better than the best stories told in video games. Yes, sometimes you get a Planescape, a Nier or a Final Fantasy VI, that comes out of nowhere and would make for a good story regardless of the format, but 99% of games don't come close to compare to what many books and movies do every year.

That said, I think the comparison is unfair. I think games are just not as efficient at telling good stories, and they simply never will be, but they can do so much more, though. Games like Starseed Pilgrim or Journey or Proteus, that when you play them generate a vast range of different emotions without ever relying on words; that when you finish them you have that same feeling of fulfilment that you get when closing a good book, and yet there was no story to speak of; these could never be anything other than video games, and I think anyone who dismisses video games as an art form because they mostly don't have good stories is incredibly narrow minded.

Anyway, that's my two cents.

#76 Posted by JZ (2120 posts) -

@oldirtybearon: oh I have a brother! I've said that exact rant several times. I fucking hate it this "it's so bad it's good" ironic bullshit. No "it's not so bad it's good," you just like a game this most people don't own it.

#77 Edited by ryanwhom (290 posts) -

Books tell more intimate stories than film, film tell tighter stories than games cus games have to premise you fucking around with puzzles and killing a million things into their story, which means they can only ever normally reach parity with action movies which do the same thing. And the only way to circumvent that is to make less of a game so you can tell a better story (adventure games). There is a gap. Its not pretentious. If you think most game stories can go toe to toe with film you either have low story standards or you dont pick up the nuances in most film stories.

Its not sacrilegious to understand that certain mediums are better at doing certain things than other mediums. Its just realistic. Anyone who reads books, listens to music, watches movies, watches tv, and plays games should understand that certain things shine through better in one thing over another, if all mediums were equally efficient we'd only need the one for entertainment. The Last of Us had to tell a story about a psychopath in order to explain the common gameplay trope of you acting like a psychopath. That's limiting for a storyteller. No such limit exists in books or film.

#78 Posted by probablytuna (3888 posts) -
@jz said:

@probablytuna: when you come out of the theater and say "I really liked that movie" and someone says "oh the book was much better." They are really saying "you're an idiot for enjoying that and I'm a superior person because I read the book before hand."

So they're not allowed to say the book is better, even if they believe it to be true? Maybe it's not the fact that they're saying the book is better than the adaptation, but rather the tone that makes them "snobbish". Also, have you ever watched a movie and then read the book which it was adapted from afterwards and see which you liked better? I watched Kick-Ass 2 when it came out in theatres and read the book after the movie, and I can honestly say, the book is better.

#79 Posted by JasonR86 (9739 posts) -


The problem is that the majority of game writing is still very poor. There are exceptions but they sort of prove the rule. Movies, books, and TV shows get a past because they have a history of quality that moves beyond their medium. For video games, I can only think of a handful of games that do that.

#80 Posted by WMoyer83 (653 posts) -



#81 Edited by CircleNine (380 posts) -

The fact that now every few months a game comes along to rapturous praise of Bringing Video Game Story Telling To A Whole New Level shows how fucking shit game stories/gamers are.

The fact that Ken Levine failed in a Real Writing Career before become a luminary of video game stories (he's amazing at atmosphere, not story telling) is telling.

#82 Posted by Darji (5293 posts) -

One thing I totally forgot are TellTale games. Just mention Walking Dead and also especially The Wolf Among Us. These two games did perfect Storytelling for these kind of adventure games. Especially The Wolf Among US. I was really invested in the characters and their story and many people were as well. Just remember the reactions to I think Episode 3 and a certain death in this episode.

And yes it is still very early for games in terms of Storytelling but I can not wait how Studios like NaughtyDog will revolutionize it again in this generation just liek they did with Uncharted and The Last of Us.

#83 Posted by Ligerpotumus (12 posts) -

I don't think we should use the term "good for a video game" seeing as we have seen good stories from Mass Effect, Last of Us, etc. However, I always find myself either loving a video game's story or being completely indifferent to it. There's rarely any middle ground for me. Whenever I review a game on my channel I will either praise it to hell or talk down about it, in most circumstances I talk down about them...

#84 Posted by zudthespud (3288 posts) -

I don't know man, I play a lot more games than I read books and I'm still to find a game story that is anywhere near as good as the best books I've read. I don't think it's a problem, I play games for mechanics more than story anyway.

#85 Posted by Jaqen_HGhar (990 posts) -

But sometimes that's the truth. As a few other people have said, the majority of game writing is poor when you put it against other forms of entertainment. I think this is solely because games are relatively young compared to movies and books.

Sometimes you get the legitimately good story in a game. A story that would be great as a book or a movie as well. That doesn't mean the game must be great though. The best games in my opinion is the ones that not only have a great story, but a story that would be more difficult to present in different kinds of media. Take "Brothers" for instance. I loved the story in that, and a lot that was because it used the controller to tell part of the actually story. You just can't do the same thing in a book or a movie.

But this goes the other way as well. I just begun reading the book "Railsea" by China Mieville. So far it got an excellent story. But I don't think what I have read so far would make a good game. The world and setting would be awesome to see in a game, but you would need a different story to go with it. Hell, now I just want a "manage your own Moler or Salver on the Railsea" game...

#87 Posted by Doctorchimp (4057 posts) -

These threads always turn into people who casually watch some of the blockbusters that hollywood spits out and compares the mediums that way.

When movies are still just absolutely crushing games if you look past this year's Man of Steel, Thor 2, and World War Z. I mean just recently 12 years a slave came out. Like jesus fuck that movie, I don't think Last of Us elicited a sad response from me as much as that movie did.

#88 Posted by Pezen (1701 posts) -

Can someone explain why the age of the medium somehow has any bearing on it's writing?

I've had some of the most profound experiences story wise in games, I think a lot of people are selling games short. I do think games have a much higher portion of lackluster stories in their overall best games compared to other mediums highlights. But, if you look at most movies that come out, a lot of them are shit. Especially the blockbusters of the world. And I am sure it's the same with books. But I honestly can't be bothered to find that out because reading most authors is such a bore (save for Hunter S. Thompson, that man could weave an interesting story no matter how pointless).

I do think games need to learn to factor gameplay into it's storytelling though more than it does.

#89 Posted by fatalbanana (220 posts) -

Did you ever stop to think that they might be right? The more douchier thing to me is how you hold your taste above everyone else's and seems like don't let people have there own opinions. Some people like video games, some people like books, some prefer movies. Different people have different opinions for different reasons and that's not going to change. Its been said but by in large video game stories are bad especially compared to books (not an opinion just a pure numbers match) that's just the way it is. Do I think video game stories are bad? no, there is a lot of stories I like and would even hold a few over my favorite book but there's just too few that don't nail it and force people not to see this as a quality story medium.

#90 Posted by Video_Game_King (36271 posts) -

The problem with that line of thinking good sir, is that a good book paint your imagination.

That's not really the value of a book, at least not the way I've heard it. Hell, most literary criticism removes the imagination from reading by using very specific language (EG I'm gonna quote this passage to show how it illustrates a specific idea or creates a specific mood to help evoke that specific idea).

#91 Posted by outerabiz (669 posts) -

This thread's all right. For a video game forum anyway. I prefer the original.

well you'd have to read it in it's original Russian, or you won't get the a lot of authors satirical nuances.

The biggest issue in video game storytelling is ludonarrative dissonance. The last of us is a good example of this where, one moment you're a starving weak man with a conscience, who has taken a bullet to the knee or whatever happens in that game(, it's been a while). The next you're silently murdering whole platoons of organized marauders by yourself with makeshift weapons. if you saw a movie where your main character was that inconsistent you would probably think of it as a bad movie, unless it was a movie about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In which case you would probably still think it was a bad movie but for completely different reasons.

#92 Edited by HeathHuston (30 posts) -

Video games evolved out of a state where any "story" elements existed only for cover art or to loosely explain why this square is shooting lines at that circle and could easily be dismissed as some programmers lame nonsense in favor of the thrill of interactivity and chasing high scores.

Nowadays I find that after first person shooting my 10,000th dude or third person platforming 100 chasms, I need more than the thrill of manipulating an onscreen avatar via wrote button presses to keep me going. If Uncharted were a blank wireframe it would be boring, but likeable characters and the advancing plot give me a reason to finish the game.

That being said I'm also a huge apologist for narrative in games. Most scripts are pretty weak, contrived for the sake of excitement and full of "characters" who might as well be signposts to your next activity. Even in games with above average stories I'm constantly re-writing certain bits in my head to explain away gameplay contrivances and narrative dissonance that can only otherwise be justified as "because video games". One thing that definitely helps in this respect is imagining gameplay scenarios as an exaggerated metaphor for events as they would happen in any other medium. For instance in the "book" of Uncharted Nathan Drake didn't kill 30 guys in that one room, it was more like 3 and it was just as hard, but games in most cases can't remove the gameplay parts to keep things grounded.

A handful of games that really do stand toe-to-toe with their peers in other mediums on purely narrative basis are: Grim Fandango and lots of other adventure games, The Witcher series(I find the writing to be equal to or better than the books in most cases) The Last of Us, Uncharted, Metal Gear(compared to equally goofy anime, movies or comics) GTA IV & V, Red Dead Redemption, Chrono Trigger, Xenogears, Planescape, Mass Effect(2 is by far the best character work and tightest plot but the worldbuilding of the series is as good as any sci-fi ever), KOTOR (the best Star Wars story) Deus Ex 1 & HR, Arkham Origins, Assassins Creed, Bioshocks(although the most impact-full moments are so because they subvert video game tropes so its hard to compare with anything else), and several more that I'm sure to be omitting. The common thread is that most these are fairly recent games, much in the same way that early "films" of trains moving or cats boxing weren't known for their narrative excellence, early games got by on spectacle and novelty alone. Before long talented people started telling stories with moving pictures and movies as we know them came to be, video games are just starting to turn the same corner from base audio-visual interactivity to more thoughtful virtual experiences.

#93 Posted by DeadpanCakes (1083 posts) -

@thomasnash: Interesting. That's something I've never really thought too much about, and I think you're very right about these mediums not necessarily needing that build-up like I implied.

When I went into writing my response, I actually intended the part in bold to be more about how there's a barrier of entry for games, and I think it'll take a while for the people who say "for a game," to appreciate something mechanically-abstract. I was gonna say that only in retrospect, would these types of people to see what I, and most other people here, see in games. That not enough time has passed for these people to learn how narrative elements can be communicated through different aspects of what make games unique, such as the controls or UI. So I meant to talk more about the sentiment that "for a game" needs to go (and how I think it'll be quite some time before that does disappear, and maybe no even completely), than the development of games as a medium. Buuut I lost that message somewhere along the way and it became something of a generic argument.

#94 Edited by chrissedoff (2178 posts) -
#95 Posted by TheHBK (5586 posts) -

Until I see a story as good as the Terminator or Predator, then give me a call. But the reason Video game stories suffer? Because you have to play them and you have to fit stories and characters into video game mechanics. You can't ever take a guy as a gentle person or unwilling to kill when you are blasting fools left and right.

#96 Posted by Darji (5293 posts) -

@thehbk said:

Until I see a story as good as the Terminator or Predator, then give me a call. But the reason Video game stories suffer? Because you have to play them and you have to fit stories and characters into video game mechanics. You can't ever take a guy as a gentle person or unwilling to kill when you are blasting fools left and right.

Play Binary Domain^^

#97 Edited by Dallas_Raines (2221 posts) -

@doctorchimp: Yep, this topic always gets brought up over the years. People scream that Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts or Metal Gear Solid have the deepest, most profound stories of all time.

#98 Edited by BisonHero (7267 posts) -

@xalienxgreyx said:

@chrissedoff said:

@xalienxgreyx said:

I find it quite stupid as well, Cormac McCarthy is my favorite author, and No Country for Old Men is one of my favorite movies, and I think the story in Final Fantasy IX is fully realized and highly imaginative and one of my favorite stories of all time.

Sue me.

PS - Scary Movie is a thing that exists, Twilight is a novel and a movie series, After Earth, The Happening, Knowing, etc are all inferior to most story's found in video games.

Movies and books all have shitty examples same as video games, Video Games have shitty stories and some have great stories it's just a fucking thing that happens get over it.

Remember how the main antagonist in Final Fantasy IX decides he wants to blow up the whole world because he's grumpy about the fact that he's not going to live forever? Get real; it sucks, even by video game standards.

[a bunch of stuff]

Also, in all fairness, it's honestly pretty hard to write a fantastical villain that you can't boil down to something really simple. Villains, as an idea, are kinda childish and oversimplified unless written really, really well. If you try to give them a motivation other than "they're a complete sociopath", it's often really hard to see how their motivations somehow led to the extravagant amount of effort and suffering that your typical JRPG antagonist causes. Unless you are given a Walter White-level, in-depth look at how they gradually progressed from person to complete monster, most villains are sorta unbelievable. Or even something like GlaDOS is cool and all, and well written, but she's basically HAL 9000 from 2001, except instead of being polite she is snarky. Both of their motivations are basically a simple logic error that results in them trying to kill/endanger humans, which is the oldest AI villain trick in the book.

So my point is that most villain motivations are simple and one-dimensional in a fantastical work, so that's not a very good criticism of Final Fantasy IX.

#99 Edited by chrissedoff (2178 posts) -

@bisonhero: Remember Sarevok in Baldur's Gate? He schemed behind the scenes manipulating a quasi-legitimate merchant guild/crime syndicate to foment war and worked in front of the scenes schmoozing with the city's elite so that the city of Baldur's Gate would grant him emergency powers as dictator. Having learned that he was one of the sons of the slain god of murder, his true ambition was to fulfill a prophesy that he would ascend to godhood by causing as much mayhem as possible in life. That's doing the apocalyptic fantasy supervillain thing a thousand times better than Final Fantasy did and Sarevok gets a fraction of the screen time that Kuja does.

Plus, if the essence of your argument for Final Fantasy IX having a great story is equivocating about how hard it is to do a good story in a JRPG and that Final Fantasy was OK for what it was, then what is the point? The whole idea behind the thread is video game stories shouldn't have the "...for a video game" caveat, not to make excuses for why RPGs can't figure out how to give their characters believable motivations and instead reheat the same nutty tropes over and over again because that's all that people have come to expect.

#100 Posted by GrantHeaslip (1626 posts) -

I'm of more than one mind on this. On the one hand, a lot of games strive to be "cinematic", and thereby invite the often-unflattering comparison. I think it's totally fair game to say "if this game's story was transplanted into a movie, it would be a mediocre summer blockbuster", and that's often the case. We're about to go into a game of the year season in which people are going to gush about BioShock Infinite, a game in which almost nothing of significance happens between you getting your first gun and the last third or so; a game in which social and political messages are shoved down your throat with all of the subtlety of a Skyhook melee kill; and a game in which the Booker-Elizabeth relationship oscillates wildly, culminating in a tonally-bizarre musical interlude. I haven't played Gone Home yet, but I just finished reading a book in a literature class by a fairly unknown Canadian author that -- from what I understand of Gone Home's plot -- hits the same notes with a lot more subtlety and authenticity.

We're only a few years out from GTA IV being the Citizen Kane of video games, and I dare you go to back and play that today and try to tell me it's got a plot that's even in the same league as the best movies or TV series of all time. I don't think most critics would view it the same way, and it's only been five years.

On the other hand, there are video game stories that really take advantage of the medium and do things you couldn't do in a book or a movie. Something like Ico is the obvious example, but I'd make the case that Zelda: The Wind Waker hits on an atmosphere of adventure and a feeling of coming-of-age in really effective, game-specific ways. The sense of exploration people love in games like Skyrim isn't something you could replicate in a movie. Well-written RPGs can do kinds of character and lore development you couldn't easily achieve in a movie or even TV series.

I haven't even touched upon the fact that games don't need to have good stories, because they're fundamentally interactive. In many cases, narrative weakness or absence can be made up for by gameplay strength, and there's a case to be made that the pacing of gameplay makes telling a story as effectively as a movie almost impossible. I should also say that games like The Last of Us are making huge, admirable strides in the right direction (my issues with its gameplay not withstanding).

So basically, I think it's understandable for many of us to have developed a shorthand "good for a video game" standard, but it doesn't necessarily mean games are never capable of being great or don't have their unique strengths and handicaps. It just reflects the reality that most games don't have great stories by the narrative standards of other, much more established mediums. I'm not trying to show off my embarrassingly meagre knowledge of classical literature, I'm just making a case that I think should be fairly obvious to most people who have read some books and watched some film greats.