The Evolution of Video Game Narrative- Part 1

For the past few decades video games have been an ever-evolving entertainment medium and part of that evolution has been the progression of video game narrative. Most of us can think of a number of occasions where we were genuinely engaged by the characters, backstory or plot of a video game, but something I see repeatedly is even the most widely praised video game narratives being branded as bland and lacklustre by some, and people asking why video games don’t resonate with them in the same way their favourite books, television programmes, or movies do. I believe that among the thousands of video games that exist there are some with truly great narratives, however I also believe the criticisms against modern storytelling in video games are highly valid and something that sooner or later the industry will have to take into account in creating new games. Here I want to look at the limitations games face as a storytelling medium and the possible solutions to these problems.
 

The Theory of Revolution

 There are more constraints on video games writers than most people realise.

Some believe that we’ll see a revolution in video game narrative when writers start giving us deeper characters and stories. While I agree that writers could do a lot more to give us richer and better-rounded characters and stories, modern video games give writers a lot of limitations with the kinds of characters and stories they can create, and I’m sceptical that the improvement of characters and stories alone will provide the massive metamorphosis in game narrative that some are expecting.

Some say that video game stories have ruined themselves by borrowing too heavily from the world of cinema. Personally I think the influence of cinema on both the visuals and narrative of video games has done a great deal of good and I don’t think the cinematic style should be stripped away entirely. The problem is a lot of the people asking video games to be “less Hollywood” rarely have an answer as to how video games should tell stories without using the same techniques we see in films.

Some people point to video games acting as power fantasies as the fundamental trend damaging narrative, but I believe this is often a misguided accusation. Arguably all games need to be power fantasies to be true games, or at least to be vaguely good games. The player may be just one person but if they can’t see their actions having an impact on the immediate play-space around them then they’re not going to see any point in them playing the game. I believe what people actually want is the illusion that the game is less of a power fantasy; even if players are going to be tearing through the world, having a dramatic effect on the variables laying under the hood, if the industry stops repeatedly giving players the impression that they are infinitely powerful and important then in many cases the player is going to be able to have a more relatable and realistic experience. Once again though, there are limitations that make it hard for writers and designers to remove the illusion of the power fantasy, and even if they can do it I don’t think this will be enough to revolutionise video game narrative.

The Great Divide

 In many cases there's still a significant gap between gameplay and story.

While a good video game will make your progression through its world feel relatively smooth and seamless, it doesn’t take much deconstruction of most video games to identify the staunch divides between story and gameplay. Most games can be firmly divided into narrative sections (cinematics, times at which characters are conversing) and non-narrative sections (any time when you’re involved in the main gameplay).

If we look at the way books, films, etc. use narrative it’s clear that when it comes to building a story, the creators have a blank slate upon which they can etch any world, characters, and plot they wish, however when a video game writer sits down to do their job they’re confronted with the task of working within the tight constraints the designer has created for them. They are given strict parameters to which their story must adhere to fit in with the gameplay and the small windows of non-narrative sections limit how much substantial story exposition and meaningful interactions between characters they can present. It’s somewhat of an achievement that writers are able to create a meaningful story experience at all when about 95% of most modern game narratives actually consist of someone just running around, attacking people, and collecting items; when implemented properly these activities are great fun but not overly compelling from a story perspective.

Some have argued that the requirement of the story to be weaved around the gameplay is one reason why video games can’t meet many definitions of the word “art” and I think there’s some merit to the argument. A regular artist or writer decides on themes, emotions or concepts they wish to work with and creates their work solely around these ideas, meaning the entire work encompasses and conveys their vision. Video games on the other hand may be inspired in their gameplay design by certain emotions, themes, or concepts but their gameplay and narrative almost never work together in a way that purely conveys these ideas, instead most gameplay remains a system of calculated logic and numbers over which the story then has to be draped. Given this it’s understandable why many see video games as falling so far short of other storytelling mediums.

Breaking the Pattern

 First-person shooters are great but there are only so many stories about shooting things, right?

If you want to know why so many action-oriented video games depict war, violence and other human conflicts just look at the gameplay of these games. These games are highly oriented around the idea of real-time competition and the logical way of depicting this is through people fighting. It’s very hard to imagine most first-person shooters or action-adventure games without them being about the same things every action movie in existence is about; subjects like war, violent rebellion, and assassinations. It’s not just the action games though, try and imagine a management sim that isn’t about running a location or business, or a racing game that isn’t about racing vehicles.

What’s more most games pushing the envelope of interactive entertainment as a means of storytelling only do so by removing a large amount of focus from gameplay. Heavy Rain is an excellent example of this, it’s a game that many consider one of the greatest examples of video game storytelling there has ever been, however the way in which it manages to tell its story paints a worrying picture of what video game narratives are capable of under modern development techniques. The only way that Heavy Rain was able to work was by making its gameplay so basic that it was nothing more than a series of quick-time events. Looking at the amount of story exposition the game required and the subjects the story dealt with, it becomes obvious that a game like Heavy Rain just couldn’t have existed as part of any major game genre like third-person shooters or hack-and-slash action games.

So, does this mean that when it comes to story video games are eternally doomed to lurk in the shadow of every other entertainment medium out there? I don’t think so at all. Video games have been able to learn a lot from other forms of entertainment so far and that’s great, but if they are to become a truly be a great storytelling medium in their own right then it’s going to make some time to figure out how.

Duder, It’s Temporarily Suspended

This is going to be a bit of a long piece in whole so I thought I’d pause here for now. Apologies for the cliffhanger but I’ll be posting part 2 next week. Until then thanks for reading, good luck, and have Batman.

-Gamer_152

24 Comments
24 Comments
Posted by Gamer_152

For the past few decades video games have been an ever-evolving entertainment medium and part of that evolution has been the progression of video game narrative. Most of us can think of a number of occasions where we were genuinely engaged by the characters, backstory or plot of a video game, but something I see repeatedly is even the most widely praised video game narratives being branded as bland and lacklustre by some, and people asking why video games don’t resonate with them in the same way their favourite books, television programmes, or movies do. I believe that among the thousands of video games that exist there are some with truly great narratives, however I also believe the criticisms against modern storytelling in video games are highly valid and something that sooner or later the industry will have to take into account in creating new games. Here I want to look at the limitations games face as a storytelling medium and the possible solutions to these problems.
 

The Theory of Revolution

 There are more constraints on video games writers than most people realise.

Some believe that we’ll see a revolution in video game narrative when writers start giving us deeper characters and stories. While I agree that writers could do a lot more to give us richer and better-rounded characters and stories, modern video games give writers a lot of limitations with the kinds of characters and stories they can create, and I’m sceptical that the improvement of characters and stories alone will provide the massive metamorphosis in game narrative that some are expecting.

Some say that video game stories have ruined themselves by borrowing too heavily from the world of cinema. Personally I think the influence of cinema on both the visuals and narrative of video games has done a great deal of good and I don’t think the cinematic style should be stripped away entirely. The problem is a lot of the people asking video games to be “less Hollywood” rarely have an answer as to how video games should tell stories without using the same techniques we see in films.

Some people point to video games acting as power fantasies as the fundamental trend damaging narrative, but I believe this is often a misguided accusation. Arguably all games need to be power fantasies to be true games, or at least to be vaguely good games. The player may be just one person but if they can’t see their actions having an impact on the immediate play-space around them then they’re not going to see any point in them playing the game. I believe what people actually want is the illusion that the game is less of a power fantasy; even if players are going to be tearing through the world, having a dramatic effect on the variables laying under the hood, if the industry stops repeatedly giving players the impression that they are infinitely powerful and important then in many cases the player is going to be able to have a more relatable and realistic experience. Once again though, there are limitations that make it hard for writers and designers to remove the illusion of the power fantasy, and even if they can do it I don’t think this will be enough to revolutionise video game narrative.

The Great Divide

 In many cases there's still a significant gap between gameplay and story.

While a good video game will make your progression through its world feel relatively smooth and seamless, it doesn’t take much deconstruction of most video games to identify the staunch divides between story and gameplay. Most games can be firmly divided into narrative sections (cinematics, times at which characters are conversing) and non-narrative sections (any time when you’re involved in the main gameplay).

If we look at the way books, films, etc. use narrative it’s clear that when it comes to building a story, the creators have a blank slate upon which they can etch any world, characters, and plot they wish, however when a video game writer sits down to do their job they’re confronted with the task of working within the tight constraints the designer has created for them. They are given strict parameters to which their story must adhere to fit in with the gameplay and the small windows of non-narrative sections limit how much substantial story exposition and meaningful interactions between characters they can present. It’s somewhat of an achievement that writers are able to create a meaningful story experience at all when about 95% of most modern game narratives actually consist of someone just running around, attacking people, and collecting items; when implemented properly these activities are great fun but not overly compelling from a story perspective.

Some have argued that the requirement of the story to be weaved around the gameplay is one reason why video games can’t meet many definitions of the word “art” and I think there’s some merit to the argument. A regular artist or writer decides on themes, emotions or concepts they wish to work with and creates their work solely around these ideas, meaning the entire work encompasses and conveys their vision. Video games on the other hand may be inspired in their gameplay design by certain emotions, themes, or concepts but their gameplay and narrative almost never work together in a way that purely conveys these ideas, instead most gameplay remains a system of calculated logic and numbers over which the story then has to be draped. Given this it’s understandable why many see video games as falling so far short of other storytelling mediums.

Breaking the Pattern

 First-person shooters are great but there are only so many stories about shooting things, right?

If you want to know why so many action-oriented video games depict war, violence and other human conflicts just look at the gameplay of these games. These games are highly oriented around the idea of real-time competition and the logical way of depicting this is through people fighting. It’s very hard to imagine most first-person shooters or action-adventure games without them being about the same things every action movie in existence is about; subjects like war, violent rebellion, and assassinations. It’s not just the action games though, try and imagine a management sim that isn’t about running a location or business, or a racing game that isn’t about racing vehicles.

What’s more most games pushing the envelope of interactive entertainment as a means of storytelling only do so by removing a large amount of focus from gameplay. Heavy Rain is an excellent example of this, it’s a game that many consider one of the greatest examples of video game storytelling there has ever been, however the way in which it manages to tell its story paints a worrying picture of what video game narratives are capable of under modern development techniques. The only way that Heavy Rain was able to work was by making its gameplay so basic that it was nothing more than a series of quick-time events. Looking at the amount of story exposition the game required and the subjects the story dealt with, it becomes obvious that a game like Heavy Rain just couldn’t have existed as part of any major game genre like third-person shooters or hack-and-slash action games.

So, does this mean that when it comes to story video games are eternally doomed to lurk in the shadow of every other entertainment medium out there? I don’t think so at all. Video games have been able to learn a lot from other forms of entertainment so far and that’s great, but if they are to become a truly be a great storytelling medium in their own right then it’s going to make some time to figure out how.

Duder, It’s Temporarily Suspended

This is going to be a bit of a long piece in whole so I thought I’d pause here for now. Apologies for the cliffhanger but I’ll be posting part 2 next week. Until then thanks for reading, good luck, and have Batman.

-Gamer_152

Moderator
Posted by Rothbart

Cool beans, can't wait to read the second part.

Posted by Yanngc33

As long as there are russians, communism and terrorists, there will always be a story in first person shooters

Edited by nintendoeats

I agree completely with all of that. Its kind of frustrating from a design perspective. When you write or film something, you have some leeway because it might be more work for the consumer to stop reading or watching whatever it is. This gives you time to start building narrative in more long term ways. But in a video game, it is always more work for the player to keep going than it is for them to turn off the TV and drink themselves to death. You have to keep giving the player a reason to keep going, which really constrains how deep you can get into any theme, character or story point. I suspect that this is why there are so many story-oriented epic RPGs. They have time to develop things in a way that a resource-intensive shooter doesn't.

For all its faults, I really love Deadly Premonition simply because it eschews all these ideas and does things its way. If you stick with it, the overall experience is kind of worth all the trouble.
 
Kind of.

Posted by vidiot

There is no substitute for good writing, and good storytelling. 
 
I feel that there are two over arching mentalities regarding storytelling in games, and we can't seem to even consider a common ground for these mentalities to share. The idea that storytelling should have an almost sim-esque standard: That every choice you make must resonate substantially within the game world. The other train of thought is that story should be regulated out-side of the game world, that exposition should be static. 
 I can't stand a game that embraces the absolutism of either concept. There is another mentality that has cropped up over the years, one that you touched upon and one that I despise: "Let's not really go the extra mile, because our game is a FPS, and most people are going to be playing the multiplayer."
 
Whether or not that previous statement rings 100% true can be up for debate, but that's the general message that's communicated to me via reviews, developer interviews, and forum posts. 
In discussion, I think we give far too much credit and praise for games that only have narrative within gameplay. It's not something that's "new" by any means. In this situation (FPS), the first mentality hit's it's design limitations. The FPS want's to only tell a narrative through it's gameplay, but it's twitch core mechanics and design are piss-poor for telling something substantial. The designer is terrified for some reason, for even attempting to pull the gameplay away from the player, in order to tell or explain something.
 
Because of this unnecessary fear, we get things like Killzone 2, or worse: Modern Warfare 2. Both games have a severe lack of context to the point that it virtually breaks the experience. High production make the matter worse, all this time and effort results in giant-epic messes.
 
...Yet there are games like Uncharted 2, and The Darkness. 
There truly is no substitute for good writing and storytelling. Both games are severe linear experiences, yet are for me at least: personal standout's in their narrative. Both rely on cutscenes, and non-interactive sequences, yet are memorable in characters and story. 
They might not be the most complex stories, but they have things: Like a beginning, middle, and end. Characters that exist beyond stereotypes, and actual points of context and story exposition.  
 
There's a difference between immersion and storytelling. Sometimes I wish developers could take the same amount of time pouring money into making something look pretty, with taking the time to write something that exists beyond: "Here is your gun, shoot those guys!"

Posted by nintendoeats
@vidiot said:
"Sometimes I wish developers could take the same amount of time pouring money into making something look pretty, with taking the time to write something that exists beyond: "Here is your gun, shoot those guys!" "
The problem is that this is incredibly difficult, still an emerging field, and not guaranteed to make money. I mean, I agree with you 100%. It just deems like we need to actually come up with some practical solutions.
 
On the subject of ditching cutscenes though...if designers can find compelling ways to tell story through gameplay rather than cutscens, that should be encouraged. Not that there is anything wrong with cutscenes, but there IS value in letting the player have control all the time.
Posted by MarkWahlberg

Grr! I was gonna post something similar to this but hadn't had the time yet. Damn you for your pre-emptive thinking! 
 
Anyhoo, I agree with a lot of the stuff you said. I think the disconnect between story and gameplay is really part of the limits of interactivity. If it's not about puzzles or sports, chances are the game involves some form of combat. This is the easiest, most direct way in which the player can put in effort towards doing something. Fighting gives the player something to do, something they can have a sense of accomplishment about. It's not easy to come up with a really good story that can simultaneously support the level of constant fighting a combat-based game would require (see: RDR). Interactions more closely resembling real life could easily be boring, if not handled properly, and people don't pay $60 for cutscenes. What we end up with is the minimalist/maximalist balance of storytelling tendencies, where shooters justify the fighting through brief cutscenes/ explanations in between missions, and RPG's have extensive information on the side (optional dialogue, the Codex in Mass Effect, etc.) that would weigh down the pacing if put directly in front of the player. That doesn't just apply to combat, either. The Myst puzzle games have an extreme minimalist tendency in how they tell stories, and what the player actually engages in doesn't really have anything to do with them.
 
Books and movies can tell whatever story they want. Games have to tell a story in which the player consistently   has something to do. The stories game developers are capable of telling are entirely dependent on what kind of gameplay they can come up with. 

Posted by Gamer_152
@Rothbart: Thanks.
 
@Yanngc33: I know there will always be different stories to tell but the point I'm trying to make here is that under modern development techniques games are greatly limited in the range of stories they can tell.
 
@nintendoeats: Well I think the kind of differences you're talking about are due to the fact that video games, as opposed to other storytelling mediums have different elements at their core. The TV show or book is primarily about story but the video game is almost always primarily about gameplay, it is for these reasons that they immerse the viewer/reader/player in different ways. RPGs are a good example of games where gameplay has had to be sacrificed for the sake of story. It sounds like with what you're designing though you're really trying to break past this problem which is great to see.

@vidiot: I must admit I didn't understand the entirety of what you were trying to say in your post, I felt some confusion about how to you were trying to convey the way in which gameplay intersects narrative, but if your point is that the pinnacle of storytelling in video games is to use the same development techniques we do now but with good dialogue and cutscenes then I strongly disagree. I believe video games face huge limitations in the range of stories they can tell under modern development techniques, that they have the potential to tell stories in ways largely yet unexplored, and that their very nature means they have much greater potential than to just be gameplay systems with story crowbarred in.
 
@MarkWahlberg: Yep, I agree entirely and that's a large part of what I was trying to convey in this post.
Moderator
Posted by nintendoeats
@Gamer_152: Aw, you made me feel all fuzzy inside...Ok, that might be the cider but I'm pretty sure it was you.
Posted by Video_Game_King
@Gamer_152 said:
"

Some believe that we’ll see a revolution in video game narrative when writers start giving us deeper characters and stories.
"


Hasn't that already happened? People just aren't looking in the right places. I'd pimp Fragile Dreams a bit, but I think that's gotten enough pimping.
Posted by vidiot
@nintendoeats said:
Not that there is anything wrong with cutscenes, but there IS value in letting the player have control all the time. "
I don't think so. My reasoning would be the countless games that have followed through with having player control all the time, and have failed on basic story-telling practices. I'm not advocating that all games should have cut-scenes, just that there needs to be a balance. If developers decide to incorporate cut-scenes, they should embrace the format with good writing and storytelling. Not just within the cut-scene, but throughout the entire experience as well. 
 
Granted, my personal bias is a bit more layered than others regarding "player control". For example: I applaud Bioware for making me think that my actions are my actions, even though I'm aware that if one were to examine the narrative, they would realize that the player is jumping between two non-interactive linear paths.  
 
People tend to prop up HalfLife as a shinning example of narrative through gameplay, where you are in control all of the time. I get the feeling that people have forgotten that when HalfLife 2 was originally released, there were multiple reviews that brought up general confusion in the game's story. 
The inclusion of Alyx for the subsequent episodes, was not just a gameplay addition. With Alyx always with you at all time, she took the role of being the game's narrative context. Gordon will never speak a word, but she won't shut-up about: What's happening, where are you going, what's the history of this place, what's your goal, etc, etc. 
It's actually quite clever when you stop and think about it. 
Posted by Tru3_Blu3

I think games should focus more on symbolism than exposition.




Posted by Gamer_152
@Video_Game_King: It's a continuous process, as time has gone on characters and stories in games have become in general a little deeper, a little more interesting and a little more fleshed out, and there have always been a minority of games capable of storytelling in a way the majority has not been, however the point I'm trying to get across is that there are limits to how deep these characters and stories can go with the current way storytelling in games is set up.
 
@vidiot: I feel like you're confusing storytelling through gameplay with storytelling that just doesn't use cutscenes. The gameplay of Half-Life 2 itself is not really what tells the story; just like any game which tells it's story through cutscenes the narrative in Half-Life 2 relies almost entirely on dialogue and animation.
Moderator
Posted by Video_Game_King
@Gamer_152: 
 
 
I feel like I agree with that, on some level, but I'm having trouble imagining an alternative. Also, learn to use a period, as just by looking at your response, it appears that said key might be sad from disuse :P.
Posted by Gamer_152
@Tru3_Blu3: I agree but I'll talk a bit more about that next time.
 
@Video_Game_King:  Damn, looking back at that reply you're right. Sorry, it's 1:50 in the morning here in England. I'll be talking about alternative storytelling for some time in part 2 and I may do a follow-up blog looking at more examples of games I think are doing it right.
Moderator
Posted by MarkWahlberg
@Gamer_152 said:
" @MarkWahlberg: Yep, I agree entirely and that's a large part of what I was trying to convey in this post. "
Yeah, I just liked being able to say it myself. Nice essay!
Posted by SammydesinasNL

I WANT MOAR. 
 
Although it was based on a book, I thought Metro 2033 managed to really keep my attention with it's story.
Posted by Gamer_152
@SammydesinasNL said:
" I WANT MOAR.  Although it was based on a book, I thought Metro 2033 managed to really keep my attention with it's story. "
I do think it's a real achievement to be able to adapt a work from one medium to another successfully. Most of the time I find that adaptations don't turn out very well, hence my hate of many movies adapted from books or games.
Moderator
Posted by just_nonplussed

Nicely written essay. :-)
 
I see you focused on game writers in the traditional sense. They have a difficult job to fit in with the rest of the design team. However, even though they do fill a gap, I think they're in the wrong place. I think the designer for all intents and purposes is the writer. design is just another term for write. They are constructing our experiences, or at least planning various events and actions from a number of possibilities.
 
I think jumping, attacking and collecting can have meaning in their own ways. If there is a gap there and you can jump over it - that is meaningful. But also, in Mario jumping is not always necessary - but it is fun, so that is meaningful as well.

Posted by just_nonplussed
@vidiot said:
@nintendoeats said:
Not that there is anything wrong with cutscenes, but there IS value in letting the player have control all the time. "
I don't think so. My reasoning would be the countless games that have followed through with having player control all the time, and have failed on basic story-telling practices. I'm not advocating that all games should have cut-scenes, just that there needs to be a balance. If developers decide to incorporate cut-scenes, they should embrace the format with good writing and storytelling. Not just within the cut-scene, but throughout the entire experience as well. 
 
Granted, my personal bias is a bit more layered than others regarding "player control". For example: I applaud Bioware for making me think that my actions are my actions, even though I'm aware that if one were to examine the narrative, they would realize that the player is jumping between two non-interactive linear paths.  
 
People tend to prop up HalfLife as a shinning example of narrative through gameplay, where you are in control all of the time. I get the feeling that people have forgotten that when HalfLife 2 was originally released, there were multiple reviews that brought up general confusion in the game's story. 
The inclusion of Alyx for the subsequent episodes, was not just a gameplay addition. With Alyx always with you at all time, she took the role of being the game's narrative context. Gordon will never speak a word, but she won't shut-up about: What's happening, where are you going, what's the history of this place, what's your goal, etc, etc.  It's actually quite clever when you stop and think about it. 
 
The problem isn't the cut-scene itself, it's the way it is implemented - often in a jarring way that doesn't tend to make contextual sense. Not having control all the time is not the problem...If you have freedoms, you must also have restraints.
Posted by Khann

I just looked at the pictures and read the captions.

Sorry :(

Edited by Gamer_152
@just_nonplussed: Sorry but I really can't agree with you about the designer being the writer. They are in a way, a character jumping over a gap and collecting an item is technically part of a narrative, but a writer isn't just anyone who crafts a meaningful experience. All members of the development team, from the programmer to the composer create something meaningful, it doesn't mean we consider them writers, and while the designer undoubtedly has an impact on the narrative, the kind of meaningful actions your talking abut are meaningful in the sense of gameplay, not in the sense of narrative. People make Mario jump over a gap and think "Hey, that was fun", but they don't make him jump over a gap and think "This speaks to me on a deep personal level", these are two very different things. The thing is, like it or not, the writer is there for a reason, because in a video game a lot of writing needs to be done to compile all of the dialogue and narrative, and if the designer tried to do that it would detract from their other responsibilities. I can't give a definitive answer on how to solve this problem but I think one strong approach would be to make sure designers are aware of this kind of potential gameplay-narrative link, to make sure writers are also aware of it and to have designers and writers work more closely with each other.
 
@Khann: That's okay, I hope you enjoyed the captions.
Moderator
Edited by just_nonplussed
@Gamer_152 said:

@just_nonplussed: Sorry but I really can't agree with you about the designer being the writer. They are in a way, a character jumping over a gap and collecting an item is technically part of a narrative, but a writer isn't just anyone who crafts a meaningful experience. All members of the development team, from the programmer to the composer create something meaningful, it doesn't mean we consider them writers, and while the designer undoubtedly has an impact on the narrative, the kind of meaningful actions your talking abut are meaningful in the sense of gameplay, not in the sense of narrative. People make Mario jump over a gap and think "Hey, that was fun", but they don't make him jump over a gap and think "This speaks to me on a deep personal level", these are two very different things. The thing is, like it or not, the writer is there for a reason, because in a video game a lot of writing needs to be done to compile all of the dialogue and narrative, and if the designer tried to do that it would detract from their other responsibilities. I can't give a definitive answer on how to solve this problem but I think one strong approach would be to make sure designers are aware of this kind of potential gameplay-narrative link, to make sure writers are also aware of it and to have designers and writers work more closely with each other.
 
@Khann: That's okay, I hope you enjoyed the captions.

 
Writers that write words on paper for a living are surely helpful to the chaotic, modern realities of game development. But I personally don't see a difference between designer/writer. I think a programmer is also a writer, and so is a visual artist. Writing to me just means authorship.
 
It doesn't matter if people don't think jumping over a chasm in a platformer is deep and personal. It doesn't even matter if you dispute it. The narrative is still there.
Posted by Gamer_152
@just_nonplussed: The problem is if we're going to discuss how games tick, yes, it does matter if platforming is inherently a deep and personal experience, and it does matter if we dispute it. We both want and need to know what makes a good game as the medium advances, in fact learning why games are good is the exact thing you were saying more players needed to do in your comment on the second part of this blog. I also understand what you mean about all members of the development team working in a creative capacity, but if we are to have any hope of discussing how video game narratives are crafted then we can't use "authorship" as a definition of "writing" or "creator" as a definition of "writer". These aren't the definitions universally accepted when people talk about these things and ultimately we need a word that refers to the guy who pens the dialogue and scripted character actions in the game if we are to discuss them, that word is "writer".
Moderator