The Thoughtful Gamer Episode 2: Games, Applied To Writing

Well, as of this past Friday, my junior year in high school is 1/8 over, and my school guidance counselor has given my class the "Now Is The Time To Sort Out Your Future" schtick.

Now, being "a few years ahead of my time" (read: an ambitious elitist dickwad), I've already got an idea of what I want as my major in college: Creative Writing. As it is, I've been told by many people that I have the gift of creativity, and last year my English teacher did the impossible by making me realize my love of writing. That, combined with my love of reading, made me realize that instead of READING the next great story, I want to put pen to paper (or fingers to keys) and TELL it.

As usual, you're probably thinking, "SteepInKline, you charismatic stallion! What could this POSSIBLY have to do with video games?"

Well, allow me to state, first of all, that I am of the mindset that  games can be works of art.

I can already see Jeff getting ready to track me down and beat me senseless for that last statement.  (what am I saying, he'll never read this crap!)

Yes, it sounds like a hippieesque, gazing-through-rose-tinted-sunglasses kind of statement, doesn't it?

But what many people seem to forget is that before they can play any game, someone has to have an idea. And in the case of most games that aren't Big Rigs, that idea usually comes in the form of a story.

For all the Madden fans out there, let me spell it out simply: A GAME'S STORY IS JUST THAT, A STORY.

Stories can be artistic, no?

Thus, it stands to reason that a VIDEO GAME'S story could be artistic as well, right? And, if not, at the very least one might be able to glean some examples of literary elements in action from them, amirite?

Those of you who think I'm a pothead of Jonathan Blow proportions, let me tell you that you wouldn't be the first to think so. I have been laughed out of class at times by the jocks at school for applying examples of literary elements to portions of BioShock. And, by the way, the teacher has agreed with me. So there!

Getting back on topic, I've begun to notice a sort of evolution in the storytelling in games as of late. There are some games that go above and beyond the, ahem, Call of Duty to tell a really kickass story, the aforementioned BioShock being one of them. No longer are we witnessing the same story told OVER 9000! different ways.

The only explanation I can think of is that , for the most part, video game players are getting more intelligent, or at the very least more cultured. The public no longer justifies paying $60 for a game with the same plot and paper-thin characters as that-one-they-made-last-year. Instead, we are looking for games with deeper stories, settings that enthrall us, and characters that all but force us to care about them.

And it is my belief that this has only just begun.

I predict that in five years or less we will have firmly established games as a medium for storytelling. Imagine Stephen King, with his penchant for writing novels with creepy storylines, deciding to release his next novel as a GAME. Done right, it would have the potential to inspire a totally new form of entertainment.

Even now, there are games that transcend traditional media and storytelling: Hotel Dusk and the Ace Attorney games come to mind.

I believe, my friends, that we should look to games for the next great story.

And who knows, yours truly may end up writing it!

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Posted by SteepInKline

Well, as of this past Friday, my junior year in high school is 1/8 over, and my school guidance counselor has given my class the "Now Is The Time To Sort Out Your Future" schtick.

Now, being "a few years ahead of my time" (read: an ambitious elitist dickwad), I've already got an idea of what I want as my major in college: Creative Writing. As it is, I've been told by many people that I have the gift of creativity, and last year my English teacher did the impossible by making me realize my love of writing. That, combined with my love of reading, made me realize that instead of READING the next great story, I want to put pen to paper (or fingers to keys) and TELL it.

As usual, you're probably thinking, "SteepInKline, you charismatic stallion! What could this POSSIBLY have to do with video games?"

Well, allow me to state, first of all, that I am of the mindset that  games can be works of art.

I can already see Jeff getting ready to track me down and beat me senseless for that last statement.  (what am I saying, he'll never read this crap!)

Yes, it sounds like a hippieesque, gazing-through-rose-tinted-sunglasses kind of statement, doesn't it?

But what many people seem to forget is that before they can play any game, someone has to have an idea. And in the case of most games that aren't Big Rigs, that idea usually comes in the form of a story.

For all the Madden fans out there, let me spell it out simply: A GAME'S STORY IS JUST THAT, A STORY.

Stories can be artistic, no?

Thus, it stands to reason that a VIDEO GAME'S story could be artistic as well, right? And, if not, at the very least one might be able to glean some examples of literary elements in action from them, amirite?

Those of you who think I'm a pothead of Jonathan Blow proportions, let me tell you that you wouldn't be the first to think so. I have been laughed out of class at times by the jocks at school for applying examples of literary elements to portions of BioShock. And, by the way, the teacher has agreed with me. So there!

Getting back on topic, I've begun to notice a sort of evolution in the storytelling in games as of late. There are some games that go above and beyond the, ahem, Call of Duty to tell a really kickass story, the aforementioned BioShock being one of them. No longer are we witnessing the same story told OVER 9000! different ways.

The only explanation I can think of is that , for the most part, video game players are getting more intelligent, or at the very least more cultured. The public no longer justifies paying $60 for a game with the same plot and paper-thin characters as that-one-they-made-last-year. Instead, we are looking for games with deeper stories, settings that enthrall us, and characters that all but force us to care about them.

And it is my belief that this has only just begun.

I predict that in five years or less we will have firmly established games as a medium for storytelling. Imagine Stephen King, with his penchant for writing novels with creepy storylines, deciding to release his next novel as a GAME. Done right, it would have the potential to inspire a totally new form of entertainment.

Even now, there are games that transcend traditional media and storytelling: Hotel Dusk and the Ace Attorney games come to mind.

I believe, my friends, that we should look to games for the next great story.

And who knows, yours truly may end up writing it!