Archive for March, 2010

Narrative in Gaming (Part 2)

Like any technology or industry, video gaming has its innovators.  From the hype machine, the audience is lead to believe that innovation comes quickly and frequently, with the medium constantly evolving and in a state of flux.  Some prominent voices (read: Michael Pachter) seem to think that stability is something to be feared, so predictions of upheavals and new tech and the like are constantly on everyone’s radar.  And the mainstream press and gaming blogs pick up on it, because like it or not, such predictions are “news” in the industry, and aren’t something to be frivolously ignored, no matter the ultimate outcome.

The truth, however, is that the gaming industry as a whole – publishers, developers and consumers, as well as a host of other peripheral industries, such as gaming journalism and PR and marketing – relies on stability in games.  What is taken for innovation is actually an evolutionary iteration of established mechanics or tech, instead of something that is a full-blown innovation on established mechanics.

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Narrative in Gaming (Part 1)

Narrative storytelling in gaming gets a bad rap.  Few but vocal are the ones that find it a necessity, and while their numbers are growing, tastes in the mainstream gaming culture still aren’t mature enough to handle the growth necessitated by the stories that many developers want to tell.

First-person shooters, in general terms, are the most underdeveloped of the lot, and many of them sell millions and millions of copies.  Certainly, Bioshock and its predecessors are exceptions, and worthy exceptions at that.  But these are not the rule.  Even these fine examples of design and narrative fell apart due to convention and cliché at the end of their respective journeys, something that proved disappointing to the players who found themselves caught up in 2K Boston’s cautionary tale.

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