Welcome back to another edition of Long Live Play PSN Community Spotlight; where we look at posts submitted in the PlayStation Community Forums to focus on PlayStation-powered stories. We’ve seen a great response from the PSN Community with last week’s debut of the Long Live Play PSN Community Spotlight. This week’s post shows that spotlights don’t have to be all about PlayStation. The gates are open for anything you want to talk about gaming related; but it doesn’t hurt to frame it in a PlayStation context. Read the posting best practices for more info.
This week’s spotlight has PSN member JillyDad taking a look at how stories are told in game. Long time gamers know that games can be as emotionally powerful as any book or movie if they get their storytelling right. JillyDad wonders if games can pave the way for more developers to utilize the vocabulary that only a game could offer.
A New Form Of Media
PlayStation gaming is becoming as much a part of the entertainment industry as movies, but what will it take to be the primary source of entertainment? In terms of storytelling, games are beginning to mature. What I would love to happen is to see how PlayStation pushes games to to evolve into a truly new form of media.
I like to think about PlayStation games that I’ve played that really speak to that idea. Think about games like the Half-Life series. There are no cut-scenes, but there is still the convention of a narrative. Team ICO is able to tell their story with minimal dialogue, and a strong emotional conveyance of seclusion, dread and friendship. ICO told a powerful love story by simply having the characters hold hands as a mechanic. Shadow of the Colossus made you feel a sense of remorse for destroying these majestic creatures, and yet you are driven forward to save a girl that you are never told what your relationship to her is. Games like Flower are getting closer. The story is told through gameplay. Not a word is spoken. Not a face is shown. It is simply petals flying through a landscape. Yet, somehow, I had an emotional response, and perceived a story. All of this was through gameplay.
And then there’s Journey. With absolutely zero text, save for the opening game start screen, the story is completely engaging, yet unbelievably subtle. The multiplayer aspect of it even helps you frame your own story of the ‘journey’ and is unlike anything I’ve experienced. I have never felt so connected to another player online as you feel like you are truly sharing an epic struggle, while basking in the triumphs together. This type of narrative could only be accomplished within a game’s natural gameplay environment, and I’d love to see more experiences like this.
This is the future. Using the GAME to tell the story. I’m looking forward to what developers like That Game Company, Naughty Dog, Valve, Team ICO (and who knows who else?), may have up their sleeves.
What are your thoughts on storytelling in gaming? Any examples you can cite about breakthrough ways that a PlayStation game told a story in a way that only a game could? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. Congrats to JillyDad, who is now the recipient of a $50 voucher redeemable in the PlayStation Store! Send in your stories here, and feel free to read JillyDad’s original post here.