Talking Point: Should Game Stories Be Regarded as Highly as Literature?

Expert assures us that games do, in fact, tell us stories that engage our minds.

Dr Souvik Mukherjee of Nottingham Trent University believes video games should be regarded as a storytelling medium that can stand along with traditional literary texts. Of course as a computer game narrative expert he has conducted an arbitrary research study to make these incredible findings... well, more credible.

He took a number of games and studied their storytelling potential from 1st person shooters to adventure games. I can only imagine how the grant proposals read for such a study. Did it include a budget for chips, soda and days off actual work?

Anyway he does provide an important scholarly voice for this somewhat obvious assertion:

I believe a major reason for their popularity is their storytelling experience, as players of game 'blockbusters' like Half Life 2, Assassin's Creed and Bioshock will tell you.

Though often unfairly dismissed as toys for children, computer games are far more complex than that. Most gamers, adults and children alike, play these games because of the stories they tell. So, whilst many focus on the violence in video games, the narrative potential of these games should also be explored.

In his study he looks into how involved a player becomes in the narrative through the interaction of gameplay, and how this may meet or even exceed the connection achieved through a traditional literary form.

For anyone reading about this here this is not exactly news, but still interesting to see it coming from the academic community in a serious fashion. I think it also mirrors a more honest and necessary look at game design as artistic expression, even if they are generally approached with profits in mind.

Games are indeed intended to keep us connected to a story through interactive moving pictures, sound and light but often still heavier on text than a movie or TV show. Since their yearly profits recently exceeded those of the feature films I’d say it’s time it was taken more seriously as a medium.

Next step: Hire some good writers to go with these games that aren’t already gamer nerds.


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