Why Don’t Developers Try Harder on Game Stories?

-by Dylan DiBona

Video games are a beautiful form of entertainment that can allow the user multiple areas of interest. Some people are into games just for the gameplay, others the online communities, and for some others- the story.

As a child, having a good story was the most important aspect of a video game to me. It’s why I was in love with Kingdom Hearts (key word = was). It’s why I was addicted to Pokémon Mystery Dungeon and The World Ends With You back in my DS days. There’s a reason why good stories could be the biggest selling point for a game; everybody loves a good story.

Even the most hardcore online gamer might give a game like Emily is Away a chance due to the chatter on the internet. You’ll have a much harder time convincing a story-chasing gamer to try Call of Duty than you will have convincing an FPS gamer to try an RPG with an amazing story. It’s pretty obvious that interesting stories intrigue people. So why aren’t developers using this to their advantage?

Image result for gone home

If you search up “GTA IV vs GTA V” you’ll find most people saying V is the winner overall, but almost everyone will agree that IV has a far better story. Maybe this is a bad example since GTA V is one of the highest selling games ever, but I firmly believe that IV had more resonance with the people who play both single player and online.

Games like Gone Home and Virgina, or my recently reviewed The Unfinished Swan don’t feature stunning gameplay. They’re labeled “walking simulators” by people who don’t like them, because all you do is essentially walk. Boring right? Wrong.

Again, I fully acknowledge the fact that I’m assuming a lot in this article, but the pull of emotional connection can be just as powerful as the pull of getting the next high-score. I find myself when I’m playing Downwell thinking “just one more game” in attempts to beat my previous tries. With games like Shadow of the Colossus I’d think “just thirty more minutes” because I desperately wanted answers to a gripping tale. Before I knew it, those thirty minutes turned into hours.

File:Video Game Cover - The Last of Us.jpgLet’s say that Naughty Dog didn’t try something new with The Last of Us in terms of gameplay. Imagine it was an Uncharted clone gameplay wise, but still had it’s gripping story? Would reviewers have graded it significantly less?

I’m getting off track. Video games are by essence, games and are their purest when focused on the interactive experiences a user has.

Doesn’t it seem odd that per generation we get perhaps a handful of games lauded for their stories and characters? Why aren’t developers pursuing better stories? I know they don’t fit every genre; who wants a story for a shoot-’em-up?

When I’m hunting for games I may have missed on past generations; I’m so deeply interested when I hear somebody say “This game has an amazing story!”

Gameplay should still stay the number one priority for developers, and no dev team says “let’s make a bad story”, but it’s obvious it’s not even in the thought process for tons of games.

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So guys is story not important in video games? Are things good the way they are? Would you like to see devs try at making more gripping stories? Let me know down below in the comments and I’ll try to reply. As always, thanks for reading.

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4 thoughts on “Why Don’t Developers Try Harder on Game Stories?

  1. I actually don’t object to the term “walking simulator” and I apply it to games in which there is little gameplay whether I enjoyed it or not. I enjoyed Firewatch as a walking simulator due to its engaging story and interactions that were simple, but had meaning and altered the world in small ways. I didn’t enjoy Virginia due to the story being needlessly obfuscated and there being little to no meaningful interaction. Both walking simulators to my mind.
    Emily Is Away is still heartbreaking though :-p.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah I don’t know if it seemed like it in my writing, but I actually don’t hate the term either. Let’s be honest sometimes all you do is walk in these games. Devs probably dislike the term the most, nobody want’s their game to be labeled something so boring. I’m iffy on Virginia, I liked the silent premise but yeah the ending was just impossible to comprehend for any normal person.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t actually mind if the story is detailed or just kind of there. As long as what I’m doing make sense given the context set up by the game. Mostly I play games for the fun so if the game play isn’t fun then I’m going to move on regardless of how interesting the story might be, and I think a lot of people take that option. Still, a game that manages a good story and interesting game play is always going to be a winner.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with Karandi. The story is usually a backdrop that keeps me motivated to play, though in most cases, I’ll keep playing even if the story is bare. I love great stories in games though. Some of the best stories I’ve played through have been games that focus on it like visual novels or “walking simulators.” But I don’t usually find games where the story complements gameplay and vice versa. I usually think of them as separated focuses, which is why story-heavy games tend to be passive. This is why one of my favorite recent story-based games is Life is Strange, where the gameplay and story were intertwined without being compromised. Very thought-provoking article!

    Like

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