GCDC: Complex game stories? Worst idea ever

GDCA panel was assembled during this week’s Leipzig games conference, consisting of veteran gaming story tellers Ken Rolston designer of Oblivion, and Bob Bates an author of many videogame adventure stories.

Right off the bat, the conversation heated up with the panel being asked if games should try to be less linear in their story telling and be more complex. Rolston said that is was the worst idea he had ever heard. He elaborated saying that it is so, because games just aren’t any good at it.

The pair often seemed rather cynical towards the idea of grand stories in videogaming. "As an author of a story you have to push a character into doing things it wouldn’t want to do in order to grow the character. As a game designer it’s not fair to make the player have to do that," said Rolston. The insinuation here seems to be that story and game design are fundamentally exclusive.

Bates continued on that thought, ""We have to have content to support that choice for the rest of the game; which would present something of a logistical nightmare."

While the panel was mostly very agreeable throughout the proceedings, they diverged on one subject. On the topic of back story, Rolston expressed his belief that backstory is best told through ambiguity and hints. The best example of this theory is in Rolston’s own game, Oblivion, where ancient ruins pepper the landscape providing hints of a long since passed history.

Bates disagreed. ""What passes for story in most games is just revealed backstory, and that is really that. It can provide some context, but fundamentally it’s uninteresting. I want what’s in my mind to poison your mind, and that’s not going to happen with ambiguity."

What do you guys think? Is the subtle ambiguity of games like Bioshock the path to a solid story? Or does Final Fantasy hold the answer to gaming’s story woes with straight on narrative?

[via CVG


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Author: Andy Groen View all posts by

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