Once Upon A Playtime III: Return To The Gamestory Lagoon!

In Links on 2010-03-26 by Kyle Maxwell Tagged: , ,

It’s like a loose tooth, this topic. I can’t stop tonguing it.

I’m getting ready to head off to SimCon (driving five hours to Rochester — whee!), which means this post won’t be super-crazy-holy-shit-long. But seriously, I can’t stop thinking about it. It makes sense; I have to give a talk on this very subject in just over a week, but even without that motivation, it still nags at me.

I have new conclusions and questions to add to the mix. Take them. Breathe them in. Let the airy, academic fog encircle your lungs. Then exhale it. Spit it into my eye if you must.

Oh, and if you need them, the first two parts are here (Part One!) and here (Part Two!). New comments have been added since last you looked, I bet.

Last note: for the most part, I’m going to continue to focus on video games. Tabletop RPGs are really their own animal at present, and do what they do very well (conceptually, not necessarily in each iteration).

Flavor & immersion matter for storytelling, of course. Without ambiance, you might as well just roll dice. (But hey, craps has its own drama and story, just of a very different nature.)

But game mechanics play a role in telling the story and setting the scene, too. Look at the classic old PnP RPG Paranoia, for example, or the MMORPG EVE Online. The game design itself says something about the world, the characters that inhabit it, and their relationships to each other.

In fact, I think sandbox MMORPGs (as opposed to themepark MMORPGs like WoW) have a lot to say in this regard, because in many ways they provide a means to simulate a world and thus allow players to tell their own stories, even in an in-character context. Whereas in most games, even fairly non-linear ones, the players get to choose a story from those the creators already implemented.


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