Thursday, September 22, 2011

Trust me: it's not that exciting

I have written about video games a bit here, mostly in terms of how nowadays the best games are the ones that tell a good story. Well, today I read an article that makes me wonder if gamemakers might be trying a bit too hard. Now they're writing stories about storytellers... specifically, journalists.

In my world, journalism is grit and shoe leather. Most of the time it's a methodical business of tracking information, finding out who can tell you what and making sure it's all solid and clear. It can be exciting--like solving a mystery--as you're piecing together something over the long term and watching its impact. Some guys wrote a book about that once. Breaking news is a different beast, as you enter a story in media res, soaking it up as it happens, mixing in context and letting your readers know ASAP. There is more adrenalin involved.

But enough adrenalin to base a video game on? Er....

Oh, right, of course: war reporting (also the subject of a great book). I haven't done any myself, but from everything I have been told there are fewer better ways to feel alive than surviving a firefight. Surviving a firefight is the subject of quite a few games already. So it should work, right?

Maybe. Not being able to actually shoot anything in a first-person shooter might be a drawback for a lot of players. Which brings us back to the idea of a story. A tale about telling a tale can work as a movie. But when you're playing the central character, shooting video while everyone around you actually drives the plot forward could be about as exciting as calling a school board member.

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