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.
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.
Worldbuilding is a complex task, and an easy trap to fall into is to overexplain things. In this essay I explore how it is possible to overload a player with information, how it can occur, and the effect this overloading can have on players.
Video games have been experimenting with minimalist narratives for a while now. But sometimes those narratives don’t quite work out as intended. In this essay I’ll explore some aspects of minimalist writing to provide a few ideas on how to better craft narratives that steer away from writing too much.
Writing stories is hard, and one problem that we can run into is “overwriting,” or going a bit too far in our prose. In this essay I’ll examine the issue of overwriting in more detail and explain why it causes issues for a game’s narrative.
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.
When we play games, one thing we sometimes do is replay games, for a wide variety of reasons. But when it comes to designing games or talking about them, what is it that makes a game “replayable”? In this essay I’ll explore some factors that contribute to the idea of replayability in games.
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.
Storytelling is a core part of creating games, but as we try to make more and more complex stories, what should we be aiming for? In this essay I explore the idea of how to incorporate philosophical questions into the storytelling process.
While stories are a prominent element of video games, what makes a good story, and in particular, what makes a good story for a video game specifically?