Tuesday, 6 January 2009

I’ve got a story to tell……..

Stories play a relevant part in human life. We can learn lots of things from a simple story while also being entertained. Ever since I was a child I’ve been told various different stories from books, film, television, word of mouth and even through songs. They all make up a part of who we are and define our own personal stories. Depending on the games we play, we will most likely find some form of a storyline within them. Without a storyline a game has no purpose. Majority of the arcade and puzzle games along with sports games don’t have a story since they are point based which generally forms the objective of the game (Person with highest points wins). Other genres such as shooters and strategy games tend to have a story since they don’t rely on a point-based drive. The games are driven by the need to complete the story or make the story. Either one allows the player to carry on playing and creates an overall gaming experience.

A good story often makes a difference within a game and results in its success. The story usually makes the player feel connected to the game, it gives purpose to what the character has to do and can affect the way the player interacts with NPC’s (non-playable characters). Games like halo, half-life, call of duty and gears are good examples of games that manage to create a connection between an NPC and the player through means of story. In Halo, the connection between Master Chief and the A.I named Cortana becomes stronger as you play the game since Cortana is a vital part of the Master Chief’s story. By the beginning of the third game, Cortana is separated from Master Chief and is found in the hands of a dangerous being. Since the bond between the two characters grows through the prequels, the player has a greater understanding of why he needs or wants to save her and would do anything to get her back. Sergeant Johnson is also another character that the player starts to feel comfortable with due to the story that builds around both Johnson and Master Chief. At certain points in the game the player can feel at ease knowing that Johnson is on the gunner of a warthog and is rite by their side. Gears does the same kind of thing with the connections between the four characters and the histories that some of them share. Dominic Santiago shares a history with Marcus Fenix, which makes them a good partnership (if the AI was good for Dom). The combination of Baird and Cole Train also add to the story since each character has their own personal history that unfolds as the game carries on. The more a player plays the game the more they care for each of the characters.

Games such as GTA, Sims and MMORPGs allow the player to create their own stories. GTA focuses on a main storyline but also has the addition of several sub-stories. The player can choose to do whatever they want to do but generally the main story of the game is played out, the only changes are the outcome of how the story is played out and the conclusion. GTA’s sub-stories revolve around NPCs and the more sub-stories the player follows the more they achieve throughout the game, some NPCs can help the player in combat and others can help the player with money, relationships and weapons. In GTA 4 the option for calling NPC friends over a mobile phone was introduced. This way the player was able to build relationships with NPCs by arranging dates or activities that they could take their friends to, this involved going to play pool, bowling, comedy shows, strip clubs and many more. MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft have a main storyline but generally don’t have an end to the game since the player can decide to do whatever they want. The game is built so that people can create their own stories in another life and world. The interaction within the game is done through real people also playing the game. This way people can for a history and relationship with other people. I was watching a show called Pure Pwnage, which takes it to the extreme but also portrays reality. An episode was dedicated to the World of Warcraft experience, which showed the main character having a real relationship with a person over WoW. The two involved did not play the main story of the game but concentrated more on dating each other’s characters. It’s a good example of a game that lets the players create their own stories (even if they are strange) yet also have the option of playing the main storyline as well. Story telling is important and therefore to make a successful game, the game needs a story. It needs to make the player want to play the game yet care that they are playing at the same time. Certain games however will not need a good story or one at all due to the way the game is played.

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