Friday, 5 December 2008

Storyline! Storyline!

Story lines are often the focal point of modern computer games. Some games, have compelling and addictive story lines, whereas others... well, lets just say some developers don't have much imagination.

And then, there are the games with the most amazing stories, the story lines that just can't be beaten, the stories that are perfectly crafted to suit every individual... Multiplayer Games.

When we break it down, the computer games industry is very similar to the movie industry, in fact with every major release, the two are becoming closer and closer. Movies tell a story, often with plot twists and dramatic irony to entertain the viewer. Single player computer games often do the same things, essentially, a computer game is a story, but during which you are asked to complete small tasks in order to advance.

Lets take for example Bioshock. Bioshock has no multi-player aspect therefore relying purely on its single-player value to entertain the player, yet it sold massive units. The gameplay dynamic was relatively simple, you shoot stuff and progress through a story. Yet it was that story that brought the player in, the dramatic setting, the perfect art style, and the brilliant story of deceit and well, I won't ruin it for you. For the Game Bioshock, the story line really did make it brilliant.

But how am I supposed to argue story line as being an imperative factor without talking about multi-player games?

Well here is the thing, people would argue that multi-player games such as 'Battlefield 2' have no story line, but i really beg to differ.

The brilliant thing with multi player games is that we craft our OWN story, based upon the actions we prefer to take, and is therefore crafted for us.

I've just finished a quick session on 'Battlefield 2' (Project Reality mod to be precise). As my friend and I finished our game and spoke over teamspeak, we recalled the dramatic events that happened. Like the time we laid a perfect ambush for some tanks, or the time we held out in a bunker over a fierce attack.

This was OUR story, I enjoyed that story, because I chose those events. This is how I firmly believe multi-player games are stored in the brain, how they become appealing to us, I could be wrong, and it is just my opinion, but maybe there is something to be made of it.

As for games like WOW and Second life... Well here is the thing, I still see story aspects in these games. In games like WOW for example you accept small quests, these quests are a story in themselves. However, games like WOW and second life also rely on their social aspects, there is a social hierarchy in both games, and players generally want to move themselves up the hierarchy. But once again, this is also the players story unfolding for them.

In Second Life, you still have a story, once again, being crafted for you, by yourself, just as you want it to go. You also have a huge Social Aspect, especially so in Second Life, seriously, people fuck each other on that game, I'm not joking.
But its still YOUR story.

So, single player games usually have a pre-scripted story, that the player plays though. And Multi player games have a clean slate, letting the user craft their own story. Some single player games also do this too, they let the player chose what to do and where to go. Fallout 3 for example, I have my story of how I became the wastelands equivalent of Jesus, helping people and saving lives.

Stories are everywhere, especially in games, what is interactivity? Interactivity in my opinion, is the ability to craft your own part of the story.

and On that note, I'm off to pour myself a cup of purified water before I rest for a few hours...

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