Monday, August 5, 2013

A Little Something About Narrative

In the time that Linz and I have taken our hiatus, I managed to squeeze in a ton of gaming every chance I could.  Long, short, mobile, flash, shooters, puzzle, PC, console, and more.  Predictably, I am drawn to games with story and a strong narrative.  But I am learning that there are very different types of storytelling within games.

One of the few games that I actually didn't play was The Last of Us.  I was playing side by side with someone else, each our own games.  When cut scenes popped up on their play-through of The Last of Us, I would pause whatever I was doing and listen in.  It is an intense game with beautiful art and graphics.  The whole experience was very moving and each cinematic told more and more story.

Alternatively, I have been playing Half-Life 2 for the first time.  This game is steeped in storytelling and it's own serial mythology.  The graphics are almost a decade old, so clearly they don't come near the standard set by Naughty Dog for The Last of Us.  However dated, I am far more attracted to the story in Half-Life 2.  The only thing I can attribute this to is that the story unfolds within the game play.  I am actually playing the story and finding things out along the way.  We try something and it fails, now the team has to move on to something new.  Or we discover new types of enemies together and work out ways to kill them. 

Thinking things through, I seriously doubt that one way of storytelling is better than the other.  Cut scenes with amazing graphics have a great way of showing me what is happening in the classic sense.  It does, however, remove me more from the experience that is just playing the game.  I am forced to sit still and watch what can sometimes be a very lengthy scene.  Alternatively, Half-Life 2 allows me to stay in that character.  I don't have to leave my first-person vantage.  However, there are times when important things are being said by some NPC and I'm missing it because I'm busy shooting, or screwing around in a room trying to jump on boxes or find new areas.  In these cases, I am my own worst enemy.

It's really up to each individual which type of game and storytelling they prefer.  Both games are pretty awesome and you should take the time to check them out if you haven't already.  But this should give you something to think about and talk about at the breakfast table.

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