Video Games as a Storytelling Outlet


I have to say that this interview immediately put a smile on my face, simply for the fact that you can easily see the passion and the excitement that Tom Bissell emanates when he talks about GoW. I haven’t played the games and I’m not very familiar with the series, but it’s so amazing to listen to someone rant about writing in games, especially when he’s from a journalistic background. He has reached my own fantasy. If I ever had the chance to write a well-told game, I’d probably immediately transform into a giggling fangirl until I died.

Storytelling in video games has evolved dramatically since the early Zelda games. You have the additions of voice acting and making your own choices as the protagonist. Also with the introduction of subtle facial emotions, characters are becoming more alive and interactive than ever. The possibilities are incredible, but it adds a challenge to writers. Players aren’t huge fans of popping a game in to watch a movie. Cutscenes are nice and important… but now they’re known to be interactive. Players want to act as their character; they want to be that character. They may inevitably be headed toward one of ten predestined futures, but the illusion of making the choices and dealing with the consequences is what makes games appealing.

Games have transcended past the simple challenges and rewards of beating a particular level or mission. Games have developed more depth. There are characters worth investing time in, complex characters that grow and evolve just as the player might as he/she works through the story. Characters become something more integral than just static NPCs. They become living, breathing entities. And as someone that loves reading, and especially as someone that lives to write, the idea that video games can become a dramatic portal for massive, epic stories is something that I absolutely adore. It’s why I became interested in investing my own creativity in the subject of gaming.

What do you enjoy about the evolution of video game storytelling? Do you see a bright future for writing? Or is the AAA industry simply falling onto a Hollywood-type platform that could eventually lead to failure?


One thought on “Video Games as a Storytelling Outlet

  1. I definitely think we need to expect more from our developers than we’re getting right now. It’s difficult to write realistic characters for books in a well-crafted, tight environment with a minimum of interaction, but even more so for games. I think we’re making progress in some areas, but the industry seems to be having a hard time not being movies or dealing with the freedom of expression you talked about. We have indeed come a long way since Zelda, but I don’t think we’re writing better characters than link, because of the disconnect between character and action we see all the time. We’ve got an interesting future in store, we’ve seen great strides, but we need to demand more quality and less bloom.

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