Storytelling in Video Games

Cyberdrama is the term used to describe a story told in digital format. Video games are the prime example of a cyberdrama. Janet Murray’s Hamlet on the Holodeck sheds some light on digitalized narratives. Her idea of a holodeck is the digital equivalent of a movie. The key aspect of these types of narratives is that they are interactive. The user will be involved and engaged directly with the story by making decisions that will influence the flow, direction, and outcome of the story. This type of engagement in the narrative submerges the user deeper into the story, triggering emotions into the user in new ways. Storytelling in itself possess the ability to give the reader, viewer or listener emotions that tie them into the narrative. The content of stories aren’t really going to change very drastically, storytelling has been around since cave drawings. It’s the medium, the container, through which the stories are told that is changing, and video games are the perhaps the gateway to the greatest medium of storytelling. The interactiveness of video games creates a unique experience that simply watching movie cannot match. For example, in a movie, a character makes a decision that turns out to be a mistake and they face a consequence. As a viewer, you realize that they made the wrong choice, but there’s nothing you could do about it, no matter how many times you watch that movie, the same mistake is going to happen because that is concrete in the story. However, in a video game, you have control of the character and you get to make the decision, and if you make the wrong decision, not only do you have to face the consequence, you also experience regret because you know you had the chance to make the right decision. Regret is an emotion that you didn’t get from the movie, but you do get from the game. The ability to cause additional emotions like this is why video games have more potential for storytelling. Additional support of my claim is backed up by Oliver Campbell in an article on escapistmagazine.com where he states, “Do not misunderstand me when I say that video games are the final frontier of storytelling.” He believes that video games, much like many other mediums of storytelling, will have many struggles through a long period of growth before they reach their full potential.

This aspect impacts new media because the technology used to play video games, and thus tell stories, is advancing. Virtual reality has made its way into video gaming, which creates a feeling that the user is actually in the game by moving around and the visuals around them moving in real time, rather than just playing the game on a stationary TV. Virtual reality then eliminates the need to press a button in order for the user to decide to take a certain path in the game, instead they can just walk down that path. This technology is taking the interactiveness of gaming to a whole new level. There’s really no predicting what the future might hold for new technologies for video gaming.

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