On Storytelling: Meta Gaming

When you play a game, you’re always controlling a character. You know that, but how often does any player really think about that fact? In what ways could a story remind a player of that fact? In this essay I explore how video game narratives can incorporate a player’s interactions in a form of meta-storytelling that can go beyond the constraints of mere plot.

On Storytelling: Conspiracies

Conspiracies are a fairly common tool to come across in stories. They help build a sense of intrigue and drama in otherwise cut and dry narratives. But conspiracies as a tool for writing are subject to a lot of problems that we normally don’t think about. In this essay I explore how conspiracies work as a way to examine good and bad practices for using conspiracies in storytelling.

The Ticking Timebomb

A common way to make a game’s story seem interesting and urgent is by telling the player they have a limited time to complete it – there’s a ticking timebomb that will cause disaster. But often the use of this timebomb in storytelling creates problems for the gameplay that needs to be addressed. This essay will look at the problem of the ticking timebomb through the lens of how it is used in Cyberpunk 2077.

The “Choose Your Ending” Problem

Video games often allow you to choose how you want the game to end, often by quite literally asking you which ending you want. But presenting stories in this way is ultimately counterproductive. In this essay, I’ll explore the idea of how asking players to pick the ending they want generally undermines the ultimately purpose of both storytelling and interaction.