The Power of the Story

Hey Guys!

Sorry I haven’t written to you in a while! I’ve been super busy writing for HearthstoneElite.com! Check out my posts under strategy, look for the title Strategy Forge. Anyways, I feel like I’ve been neglecting you, so I wanted to talk today about storytelling in video games. These aren’t particularly eSports related, however they are near and dear to my heart and they have managed to blow me away.

There is a myth with gamers AND triple-A devs alike that more impressive looking games are better games. Sure, this is true from a sales standpoint, I mean Call of Duty: Ghosts made upwards of $1 billion in its first 24 hours. These stunning visual displays do not necessarily mean its a better game. In fact, I quite dislike the cookie cutter nature of most AAA games that have been produced lately. Predictable and recycled plots do nothing for me anymore. I’m not saying all AAA games are bad, in fact later I will cite one of my favorite AAA games that manages to tell a large story and keep you engrossed for hours.

The first game we’ll look at is called Thomas Was Alone. This indie platformer was released by indie game creator Mike Bithell in 2010 as a Flash game and produced as a Windows and OSX game in 2012. The gameplay in Thomas Was Alone is simple, the player moves a series of rectangular shapes around a simplistic black and grey world, using the shapes unique abilities to solve puzzles and fit the shapes into their respective little dotted white line holes. It is not this simplistic gameplay that gives Thomas Was Alone its raving reviews, but instead it is the story involved. Thomas, as you learn, is an AI existing in a computer mainframe. A glitch in the system makes him and a group of other quadrilaterals self-aware, causing them to try and escape the mainframe. I won’t spoil the story for you, but that’s it in a nutshell. Frankly, moving a bunch of rectangles around in a platformer is kind of boring, but it is the story that makes Thomas Was Alone such a success. I would highly recommend it. It manages to keep you engrossed for hours.

Earlier I bashed on triple-A devs for creating games with simplistic plotlines, focusing on great graphics and popular titles to sell copies. This is not, however, true in all cases. Let us take a look at The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. This game, produced by Bethesda Softworks, I personally found the main story to be relatively dry and not too exciting, but where the game redeemed itself in my eyes was not in the spectacular graphics or amazingly large open world. It was instead the countless hours of side-quests and intricate secondary plotlines that made the game so incredible! The DLC’s, something not many indie games get to have, showed that the prowess of a triple-A developer can be beneficial in expanding stories in an already incredible world!

Indie games and AAA titles all have the ability to make something awesome happen when it comes to storytelling. They have the power to keep you engrossed in play for hours and to make you care about what happens to the little red rectangle you’re moving across the screen. Where many games, particularly AAA titles, fail is in creating relatively dry stories and forgettable characters, only making up for it with well-known titles, exciting multiplayer, and awe-inspiring graphics! These are great, but what truly makes a game is its story.

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