We have always told stories from the same place , from a desire to share. From cave paintings to the Greek alphabet to the printing press to the typewriter to movies to television to computers and yes, virtual reality. The evolution of storytelling technology is vast, but what makes a story well told and how do these stories influence today's gaming society?
Starting off with cave paintings, cave or rock paintings are paintings painted on cave or rock walls and ceilings, usually dating to prehistoric times. Smoky black depictions of bison, mammoths, panthers and rhinoceroses are streaked with claw marks from bears , lumbering beasts that predate the art, the cave itself. The reason for its existence? To tell a story. To mark down in stone that something happened, someone saw something, felt something and they wanted others to know. These began myths, legends, fables, folktales, etc.
A fable is a type of story which shows something in life or has a meaning to a word. A fable is a funny story but may teach a lesson or suggest a moral from it. A fable starts in the middle of the story, and so, it jumps into the main event without detailed introduction of characters. For example:
- A lion is noble.
- A rooster is boastful.
- A peacock is proud.
- A fox is cunning.
- A wolf is fierce.
- A horse is brave.
- A donkey is hard-working.
If a person says "sour grapes!" then they are referring to The Fox and the Grapes. This fable is about a fox who saw a beautiful bunch of grapes hanging on a vine. He wanted to eat them but they were high up. He tried and tried to jump high enough to pull them down. When he was too tired to jump anymore, he went away saying "I'll bet those grapes were sour!"
So, if a person sees a beautiful thing that they want, but cannot have, sometimes they say "I don't want it, anyway! I'll bet it is really no good!" This way of thinking is called "sour grapes."
An example would be the wolf among us, The game takes famous fables and fairytales and puts them into the real world. This includes The Three Little Pigs, a fable about three pigs who build three houses of different materials. A big bad wolf blows down the first two pigs' houses, made of straw and sticks, respectively, but is unable to destroy the third pig's house, made of bricks. The primary moral lesson learned from The Three Little Pigs is that hard work and dedication pay off. While the first two pigs quickly built their homes to have more free time to play, the third pig labored in the construction of his house of bricks.
Slenderman, an urban legend about a faceless creature ranging from six to 11 feet tall, stalks, abducts, and kills children. Slenderman has been told to guide a child as far back as birth and be a "childhood best friend" until he abducts and kills them. The legend was made into a video game where the player is in first person perspective in the woods where Slenderman has said to have been spotted and they have to collect pages around the woods while avoiding the faceless creature. When he is near, the screen will fill with static and you have around 20 seconds to escape or its game over and you lose. The legend itself started as a photoshop challenge where a user photoshopped a tall faceless man into a picture with children.
The picture then went viral with children and adults all around the world claimed they have seen this creature before in parks/woods, and in their dreams. The legend stretched far more into reality as two teenage girls attempted to murder their friends because "Slenderman" told them to. Since then the popularity of the legend stretched so far that it was made into several games (Slenderman, Slenderman the Arrival, etc.) and soon became a movie.
Slenderman was brought out as a chilling horror story that captivated people enough that it was made into a game and had a popular outcome. It’s something that brought out people's fears and made them a reality, and that's why it did so well as a basic indie game, that which further developed into company budgeted games.
A few movies and television series also inspired video game outcomes, such as Batman, which first aired in the 1900s with a popular outcome that inspired the first Batman video game in 2009.
Game genres are a very important part of the storytelling and game development process; for example, if you were to decide to create a horror game, but it made the players laugh, then the whole point of making a horror game would have gone down the drain as it's meant to make the player scared and on the edge of their seat. Horror games are meant for scary clowns, not comedic clowns. It defeats the purpose.
Games like survival horror are very distinctive in their characteristics because they stand out from the rest. Most horror games must have the following:
- Low lightning/night vision
- A common enemy
- Something the player is running from/hiding from
- Dramatic music and sounds
- A secondary goal aside from the main mission (escape, survival, etc.)
The game Outlast is a survival horror where the player is running around in an asylum that has been "abandoned." The player has a camera with night vision, and there's a common enemy called the wall rider who is a black mist ghost that kills all military help. The player is running from the patients who turned insane and are trying to kill them. Dramatic music and sounds are also played when the player is being chased/hiding or is near an enemy. The secondary goal, aside from turning all lights on, generating power, capturing action, and hiding, is to escape the asylum while a character named the Father tries to stop them from leaving.
Fantasy games are the best to work with, you can create a story beyond your wildest dreams with elves, dragons, and demons by your side. Creating a everyday RPG and putting fantasy in the title would be a massive disappointment and likely fail in the markets.
Conditions are something you have to do to unlock or pass the next stage. Conditions in a game can also affect how much the game is played; for example, if the condition in a game is to complete a level to get to the next stage or unlock a special item, this will keep the player intrigued and make them want to continue with the game to see what is next to come. However, if the game has no conditions and everything is unlocked from the start, there's no surprise element and nothing is really a shock which can be very boring for the player.
For example, in GTA 5 when the player has a mission, the player cannot move onto the next mission or progress any further into the story without completing that mission first.
The three-act structure can be essential to a games success, but isn't important in all cases.
Saints Row the Third is another open world mission game.
Beginning: The player is the leader of the saints row gang. While robbing a bank to promote the upcoming Saints Row: The Movie, the Boss and top lieutenants Shaundi and Johnny Gat experience unanticipated resistance from the staff and are arrested by corrupt policemen. They are turned over to Phillipe Loren, the mastermind behind an international criminal enterprise known as the "Syndicate," who wishes to make a deal with them, seeing the Saints as a threat. The Saints refuse and stage a breakout, with Gat seemingly sacrificing himself to allow Shaundi and the Boss to escape.
Middle: During the opening of a new city bridge by the Senator Monica Hughes (dedicated to her husband), the Luchadores stage an ambush and kill several dozen Saints. To retaliate, the Boss seeks out individuals with grudges against the Syndicate. The search nets Kinzie Kensington, an ex-FBI agent targeted by the Deckers for investigating them, Zimos, an old pimp who lost his business to the Morningstar, and Angel de la Muerte, Killbane's embittered former wrestling partner.
Ending: In the first, canonical ending, the Boss lets Killbane escape in order to disarm the explosives, killing Cyrus's worker Kia in the process. With STAG's crimes exposed, the Saints are hailed by the people of Steelport as heroes. Killbane is subsequently killed while trying to organize an invasion of Earth from Mars, but the whole thing is then revealed to be the final scene from Gangstas In Space, a film financed by the Saints and starring the Boss. In the second, alternate ending, the Boss kills Killbane, but the destruction of the monument gives STAG the opportunity to launch "Daedalus", a floating aircraft carrier helmed by Cyrus himself. After destroying the Daedalus with a series of bombs, the Boss, now armed with STAG weaponry and equipment, declares Steelport an independent nation ruled by the Saints.
While there is a story ending, there isn’t a game ending because after the story ends, the player can still repeat all missions, change the ending, and explore the map—similar to GTA.
Appealing to the newer generation of gamers is extremely important in a good game, as the number of female gamers increase the industry has to find a way to keep them female gamers in sight by expanding female roles within games.
Although women make up about half of video game players, they are significantly underrepresented as characters in mainstream games, despite the prominence of iconic heroines such as Samus Aran or Lara Croft. The portrayal of women in games often reflects traditional gender roles, sexual objectification or negative stereotypes, such as that of the "damsel in distress."
Lara Croft from Tomb Raider was one of the first games with a female lead to become popular and it caused an uproar of media talking about how influencing the game has become to the industries.
Emotions are used a lot in the characters in the stories for games. How the character feels about something, affects how the player feels, and a good game should always get a strong reaction out of a player, in order for them to connect to the storyline and characters.
However, these emotions should be under control. You don't want to create a game that makes the player so angry they go out and punch an old lady in the street, or similarly, a game so scary the player doesn’t leave the bed for weeks.
For example, in The Walking Dead series, there's a scene where a little girl has to make a choice to kill her father figure who is dying and will soon become a walker. The scene hit players so hard that it was a widespread title that people were naming the SADDEST scene of the game.
A cutscene or event scene (sometimes in-game cinematic or in-game movie) is a sequence in a video game that is not interactive, breaking up the gameplay. Cutscenes are vital for a games storyline, it can help the player understand the whole plot a lot better and give a movie aspect to it.
Games like DOOM are so story-driven that without cutscenes they wouldn't have such an impact.
Prewriting strategies are important for writing because it is the stage of the writing process in which they are able to get beginning ideas onto paper. It helps writers develop clear reasoning. It helps writers find weak points in arguments. It increases efficiency by helping the writer map, plan, or brainstorm about their writing before beginning a first draft.
A good storyline and game idea don’t just appear within a day or two, but takes months to get every little detail right. Rushing into it isn’t the answer because it will end up badly. A good story is one that's in depth, emotional, in good and bad ways, carefully planned out, and can captivate the player from beginning to end.