Video game storytelling has been an area of much debate. Some say it’s still elementary while others are praising it as revolutionary. Which one is right? I would say neither. Gaming has come a long way but we’re not there yet.
Playing through Gears of War 3, I was reminded how far storytelling has come. Now before I say anything else, I’m not praising Gears for its amazing plot or ultra-deep characterization, I’m simply saying it’s a vast improvement. Remember back in the good-old-days when games were about amazingly deep characters such as a stereotypical Italian plumber saving princesses. This is one reason why video games were regarded with such disregard from most high-brow critics as an “absurd child toy.”
Now, gaming has grown to be so much more than that. Say what you will about Gears, it has an imaginative world and a fairly average, but compelling story. This would be the action movie of the gaming industry, a fun rollercoaster you can just ride and not think too much about. But if you’re like me, and prefer something a little more high-brow, there are games like Braid, Limbo, and Bioshock. These few examples show how unique storytelling in games can be from movies, books, music, and paintings. Although the older generation still don’t realize it, games offer very distinct methods of storytelling, and I know this sounds horrible, but once nature puts these old men to rest, future critics will understand.
Although video game stories has not attain the same prestige as most other arts, I believe it will in due time. It’s currently at a disadvantage because writing, painting, and most other arts has been around for thousands of years while gaming has been around for less than a hundred. Give it more time, it’ll soon have the respect it deserves.