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Are video games a good medium for telling stories, in comparison to books, and film?

Gamingtodaynews1e - Are video games a good medium for telling stories, in comparison to books, and film?

I would say yes. In most cases, I will concur that video games have a worse plot than a movie or book of comparable critical acclaim. A game with a 8/10 story does not have as good of a story as a film or book with an 8/10.

However this is not always (nor does it have to be in the future) the case

My primary example is dark souls

Now, before we can understand what makes these games special, we must first analyze the strengths and weaknesses of games.

The primary weaknesses of games are (in my opinion) pacing and a need to cater to enjoyable gameplay.

Proper pacing in video games is hard to achieve due to player controlled progression. Since in games, progression usually means completing tasks, s player who is very bad (or very good) at these tasks will experience drastically different pacing then the average player.

The need to bring enjoyable gameplay can also adversely effect the story, since gameplay usually comes over the story.

That being said, gaming is not without its strengths, the biggest of those being immersion. Immersion can make dull characters vibrant, and can allow players to feel a stronger connection to characters in the story, including the protagonist.

Immersion plays a large part in why I consider dark souls to have an amazing story, for example. Rather than give you traditional serving of game story (through cut scenes and bland characters) dark souls instead shows you exactly what life is like for your character. You awaken in a forgotten prison cell, and escape into a harsh asylum, eventually facing off against a massive demon. Dark souls puts you into the shoes of your character not by telling you "This is a powerful demon!!! he is super strong!!!!" but by showing you. Your character is killed with ease, over and over again until you find a way to progress. This is called ludonarrative harmony, which is when the gameplay enhances the narrative elements rather then distancing themselves from each other. This same concept is present throughout the rest of the game. Each boss you face in dark souls is powerful, but you, the chosen undead grow stronger with each defeat.


The story and gameplay wouldnt sync nearly as well, however, if it wasn't for the level of immersion present in dark souls. Wether its an item description containing a fragment of the worlds past, or the mountains of Corpses in new londo (which really allow the tragedy of their fate to "sink" in)

Dark souls also does a great job of making you feel alone on your journey. Even with the occasional summom or freindly npc dotted along, the world clearly reminds you of the solatairy nature of your task. You are the chosen undead, (even if the prophecy is revealed to be fake later, it sti contributes to the isolated feeling) you must conquer the many trials of this world. You are constantly remind of the failures of those before you, whether it be through the hopeless dialogue of the npcs, or the countless bloodstains detailing other players deaths.

and by the end of the game, when you defeat lord Gwyn, wether or mot you link the fire, you will almost certainly feel empty. Yes you won, and you kept your humanity intact, but it all feels so.. hollow.

This is, once again reflected through the gameplay.

Gwyn is a frail, pitiful excuse for a God. You knock his attacks to the side with ease, and although he is formidable, he is nothing compared to you.

The story of dark souls, in any other medium, would have been a fairly average dark fantasy about gods and fires and immortality. But because of the format of a video game, and due to the strengths of gaming (immersion and ludonarrative harmony) dark souls evolves into more than an average dark fantasy. It becomes one of my favorite stories ever told.

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