The danger for designers is that they get hooked into their story, and they forget that storytelling is a linear narrative-type thing. And the more you flesh out the story, the more you remove the interactivity and the more you remove the player from the game. It s kinda like ˜Oh, the outcome has already been determined. So what s the point?
” Eugene Jarvis
Strictly speaking, computer games do not need to tell stories. Over the years there have been plenty of fabulous games that offered very little in the way of storytelling. Consider Tetris , which had no storytelling whatsoever, or Centipede and SSX , where the only story found is in the game s setting. But other games, such as Halo , Command & Conquer , and Thief , have taken a story and made it work as a key part of the gameplay, creating tales so rich that players find themselves sucked into the game-world more than if the games had been storyless. And still other games, such as A Mind Forever Voyaging , Myst , Ico , and the Ultima series, have made the story such an integral part of the game that one can hardly imagine them otherwise . So games certainly do not need stories, but it seems that when employed properly, stories can make games that much stronger.
In fact, the dream of interactive stories is what drew me into game development in the first place. Imagine all of the power of a story in a novel , with its ability to grab hold and captivate the reader, to make her care about the characters in the story, to change her perception of the world, and, in some special instances, to change the way she lives her life. Now imagine how much more powerful that would be if, instead of reading about the actions of other characters , the reader was the main character in the story and was able to make choices that would affect the shape, direction, and outcome of the story. This interactive reader could see the ramifications of different choices made in different situations, and since it was her own choices that determined the nature of the story, the interactive story s draw would be that much more compelling than a traditional story. The mind boggles at the possibilities. Of course this dream is still a long way off, with no available game close to achieving this ideal. But it does provide a compelling reason to keep experimenting, with the hope of one day achieving a truly interactive story.