Fiction Writing in Video Games

I feel like when most people think of a narrative or a fiction story they’ll think of a movie, a novel, or even music but people often forget about video games. Over the past few decades, narratives have become an extremely important, creative, and incredible aspect of video games. Usually, when people think of video games their thoughts immediately go to a mindless form of entertainment without any story structure, purpose, or continuity. And although this is true for many video games out there, there are so many that have brilliant and creative stories that go along with them. Some stories stronger than others and some are structured completely differently but these stories matter and they are very creative. They don’t get the credit that they deserve so I thought that in this blog post I would write about what makes them so great, some of my favorite video game narratives, and how different the writing and story can be depending on the game. The most common games that come to people’s minds when they think about video game stories are obviously the games where you play as one or more characters and progress through a story or open world. Now, this character or characters are usually created by the writers like in The Last of Us or Grand Theft Auto, but sometimes some games allow you to create a character and make your own choices as you progress through the narrative like in the Fallout series or a game that came out more recently Cyberpunk 2077. The narratives and writing in general in these games are incredibly profound and have a significant amount of depth to them. The characters involved in the story are usually very well written with motives that mean something to the story and the reason the conflict is happening. The situations that the writers create in order for the experience to feel unique and creative are very important to this aspect of the story. For example, in Rockstar Studio’s Grand Theft Auto 5, you begin the story playing as 2 of the 3 playable characters in the game. After the first mission, however, something dramatic happens and the player is taken a few years in the future after the events of the first mission and plays as a completely different character. A few missions after that the third character meets up with one of the characters from that first mission and the stories begin to connect themselves. I believe that the way they wrote this was very creative and engaging for the player to experience. A lot of games follow this way of storytelling and are also very successful at it. For example, The Last of Us sequel as I previously mentioned follows a similar structure to its story and events. I understand that movies and books also incorporate this technique in writing, however, in video games when you feel like you have the control over the protagonist, it creates a new level of emersion. Especially in games where you make the decisions and the decisions matter. This creates a dynamic between the player and the incredibly ambitious writers unlike any other. In games that follow this playstyle, the writers have to write multiple versions of the story that expand off of each other so that players have the ultimate experience of emersion in the game, and so that they feel like every decision they make matters. The first game that comes to mind for me when I think of a game like this is Telltale’s The Walking Dead series. In this series of games, you play as someone in the middle of a zombie outbreak, and every decision you make in this game matters. Literally, in my gameplay experience, I was raiding this house and when I was in the house I stole a watch from the dresser, and much later on in the game one of my ally’s found out that I stole the watch and was no longer my ally after that point. I have an extremely large amount of respect for these writers, I cannot imagine what their process looks like and how difficult it is and how expansive it really is. Regardless of what kind of game or writing process is used, writing in video games is just as creative and interesting as books and films, sometimes, even more, depending on the game. As someone who has always been a video game player, I hope that these stories get the credit that they deserve.

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