David Kirkpatrick

February 9, 2008

Storylines and video games

Filed under: Arts, Business, Media, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:14 pm

Yesterday the Daily Dish had post on video games as art.

Here is that post:

Alastair Harper makes the case:

When the popular novel was as new an idea as video games, the great and good were certain, as they were with early cinema, that no sophistication could come from this prose business, especially the sort of filth Samuel Richardson scribbled about

They were proven wrong, as doubters will be about video games. As happened with comic books becoming graphic novels in the 80s, each year there are more developers willing to take risks with storylines, develop more complex moral situations and generally raise the bar so high that it’s becoming plain ignorant for anyone interested in stories to ignore them. […]

We need more real writers getting involved in making video games, not fewer. The results could be astounding. It will happen. Elitist suspicion of a new way of storytelling will only last so long, and I doubt the next generation of writers, who grew up on the likes of Beneath A Steel Sky, would have so many prejudices. Heaven only knows what a great writer could do with this new format. I can’t wait.

Today he posted an excellent rebuttal from a reader, a writer with direct experience in the field.

As a writer in Dallas I’ve done some low level discussions with game developers over the years, but nothing ever came of them. The idea of game narration and interactive plotlines was pretty enticing and if any of the opportunities had panned out, I’d been pretty excited.

After reading Sullivan’s reader’s response to his post, I have to say I may have dodged one of those impossible situation bullets. Not to say another situation might be different, but for the moment I’ll defer judgement to the writer who signed that NDA and contract.

The take is essentially there’s a real disconnect in trying to integrate narrative and interactivity, and very few people understand both concepts. The writer’s argument is serious work on this subject has been going on for 15 years, so lack of good writers isn’t the problem.

It may be that the next generation of writers to come along (coming along right now as a matter of fact) may make the gap easier to bridge; and, developers will have a greater understanding of both narrative and interactivity since both have been an industry focus for so long.

Certainly a fun and worthwhile subject for thought and discussion. Check out all the above links. It’s worth the time spent.

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