“Is the story good? Does the story pull you into the whole experience? Does the story make the game complete?” Nowadays it seems almost congruent that for a game to be taken seriously is has to, has to, HAS TO have a good narrative! My question is, is a story really that integral to making a fun or memorable game?
My defense in asking this question is the slew of games from my past that when I look at them, story wasn’t THAT big of a deal, what was…was the fun factor…the gameplay, the responsive control. These were the things that made you play games like Pac-Man, Galaga, Super Mario Bros., Contra, and Mike Tyson Punchout over and over and over again. Yes I know these games had a “story” per say but it wasn’t something to get all immersed in like a Metal Gear, God of War or even Uncharted, there was no “get to know the character, feel his drama to care about him!” Nope…all these games gave you were enough of an incentive to carry on from one level to the next. And we were all fine with that, I never heard anyone back in the day complain that they wanted to get to know Bill and Lance from Contra more. No we were too busy enjoying the frenetic gameplay.
Now I’m not knocking what a good story brings to a game, it does bring something to the experience having this fleshed out narrative that further immerses us in this imaginary setting. What I am trying to put back in our minds is that games don’t necessarily need to have an awesome story to be good, what is needed way before that is gameplay mechanics because THAT is the icing of video gaming; a good story is just the cherry on top! Like it or not it’s not necessarily the “great story” that keeps you coming back to play this game the 100th time it’s how good playing the thing feels and the fun you get from that. You honestly believe Super Mario has been successful this long because of its Hollywood worthy plotline? Ummmm no. You think that millions of people buy Call of Duty for the single player campaign? Nope. What I find now is that most people believe that ALL games should have a great story because they think that’s what made God of War/Uncharted/Red Dead Redemption/Mass Effect great. Don’t get me wrong all those games mentioned had great story telling that made the experience so worth it, but answer me this.How many of you would have played for the story if the controls sucked nuts, if your character wasn’t responsive, if game elements made you die cheap deaths all the time, would you stick it out for the “story” or turn it off? Games just need to be FUN to play, when a game fails to me is when you never take it up again after you finish it …that’s when I start cussing for falling for the hype! Stories in games help to further immerse us in their world but stories alone can’t drive a game to greatness. It’s a combination of different elements, story, game play mechanics and presentation which will always have you picking up that controller over and over again.