Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Emotion Element

Where do games and stories intersect? Although there is no inherent story in a game of checkers, is the experience of playing that game a story? Could it be? Should it be? As important as the where is the question of should games and stories intersect.

There is a lot of critique on the execution of storylines in games (mostly bad) and quite a bit concerning making stories into games (almost all bad). Why is this?

From oral traditions, to written epics, to mass market novels, to Hollywood; storytelling has been able to evolve and thrive as technology advances. Why is the fledgling medium of games such a problem?

What is so challenging about producing real emotional responses in players? Or rather, why is evoking compassionate emotions such a challenge? Anger, frustration, excitement, etc. have all been part of the gaming experience since games were created. Sympathy, empathy, love and sadness seem to be emotions that Hollywood can mass produce to spec, but games can not translate. Is this due to the infancy of the gaming genre, with a breakthrough right over the horizon? Or are games fundamentally different than stories, and as such, internally unable to ever create those feelings?

What is possible? What about probable? And what should we attempt for tomorrow or avoid altogether?


Yehuda said...

I have a few answers to these questions in the highlights section on the sidebar of my blog.

Try "Three Stories that Games Tell" and "Games Are Not Supposed to Be Fun"; the latter you must read through the comments for clarification :-) .


brandon j said...

Fantastic leads Yehuda.

Here are the links for those of you who have not read them:

Games are not Supposed to be Fun

I agree that the comments help give some clarification. The basic premise that you state, that games do not HAVE to be fun, is pretty spot-on. If games HAD to be fun, by definition, then then Game Theory would be misnamed, resulting in a bunch of confused economists and sociologists who claimed their territory well before the Gaming Revolution hit the world.

Three Stories that Games Tell

I have chewed on this article for a few days now, and am still not sure how to respond. I appreciate the subtle differences in your definitions, but still think that it is a missing something. As soon as I can concoct some rational deconstruction of what bothers me, I will post it.

Thanks again,


Christine M said...

Maybe people just feel that stories get in the way where gaming is concerned. There are things to do, who can focus on themes?

Rachel S said...

I don't think games are fundamentally different than stories. Sure the plot lines may be simplistic at times, but there is always an aim or outcome within the game. As for evoking emotions like love and sympathy---well I don't really forsee this element being portrayed in games because let's be honest, there really isn't a demand for it. I just can't ever see my boyfriend going "What happened in Halo was so heartbreaking." I think its just the genre.