It’s been interesting. First, Ian Bogost article on how video games are better without stories. Which I agree with, without denying the attraction for people to play games FOR the story. It’s a matter of taste but also as Ian says, it’s not where games are the strongest, I don’t think we can argue against that. Video games were about gameplay before anything else. The article talks about narrative in games with a new story-heavy game that just came out, What Remains of Edith Finch.
Watching a playthrough my immediate reactions are:
– Make it a movie.
– Cool assets. That’s a lot of work to cram in some interactivity that is not that central to the game: it’s about the story, not mechanics or fancy way to advance the plot through game scripts. Thus back to my first point.
It made me think about why I have such a hard time connecting with stories in games –and everywhere else- and it’s because writers always think they’re slick to talk about family because that’s universal right?
Wrong. Family is a vague concept to my adopted ass. The all genealogy thing and what happened to uncle Bob, I just can’t give a fuck. And it’s not because it’s not compelling, but it’s really not to me. It’s bland. It’s washed out. It’s the past that isn’t really what’s going on today.
It made me think. What kind of stories do I like? The ones that are vague. The ones that leave room for interpretation. The ones where relationships are absolutely not about that ultra classic view of family. I’m starting to think that if I loved Akira, it wasn’t so much because of the amazing sci-fi and paranormal stuff going on but because it’s just a bunch of kids with no family. They are their own family. I connect with that. Same with Mr. White and Jesse in Breaking Bad. It’s like emergent families. That’s a lot more interesting to me because that’s how my life has been: many families, none with which I share anything biological.
In short I connect with stories where family is a concept but not that hard, body-wired thing. And it’s not just because I’ve been adopted that I don’t connect with that, I think I’ve seen enough toxic biological families to know that traditional family is not something that you should put on a pedestal or imagine as being universal.
I see narrative design –right, writing- as more interesting when you add mystery in the relationship itself, not when you add mystery around a classic family tale.