“Story in a game is like a story in a porn movie. It’s expected to be there, but it’s not that important.”
My friend brought this quote up a few days or weeks ago (college time blends together; I don’t even know anymore). While I don’t agree with this in all cases, I do believe that there are some games that don’t exactly need a story. But, why is it expected? Would games be boring if they didn’t have story? Personally, I believe some games wouldn’t suffer much if they didn’t have story. There are games like Pong, Minesweeper, and even Snake—but those are more time-wasters that you find online or already on your computer. This is all based on my opinion only; please discuss in the comments!
So, let’s start this off with the Jewel Quest series. Awesome games, good time wasters, but I’m not really into the whole story part of it. I can’t remember much about the plot because I didn’t actually care. In Jewel Quest Heritage, the story is sometimes read aloud to you. Not having to read the story did very little to entice me. I honestly just wanted to match the jewels and get to the next level—the story just doesn’t seem all that necessary. I don’t know if they thought it was just something they could throw in for the hell of it or if they did so because it was expected of them. The fact that I personally don’t care doesn’t mean it shouldn’t have a story.
How about games like The Sims? There’s no real plot there, right? You make your own story if you want, or you go and live a life that isn’t your own and get things you never could in real life. You don’t expect a set story from this game, do you? There’s aging and marriage and children and school and promotions, but is that really a story or just life progression? Regardless, it seems like The Sims games are pretty good despite the lack of a set storyline. Maybe it’s just a storyline you make for yourself.
What about games that are based solely on their story? Games like the Ace Attorney series and 999 need a story to connect the gameplay smoothly, or at least that’s what it seems like to me. I don’t have much else to say on these types of games. They are basically interactive stories (which is probably why they’re called “visual novels”). They’re great.
Platformers! So, the normal formula with Super Mario Bros. is that you’re saving a princess from a giant turtle man. How much more story do you need? Just go to the right and get that princess! More story can be added with little impact if the game mechanics are the same and there’s no more gameplay based around the story. It’s all up to the person playing whether they want to pay attention or not.
RPGs have pretty in-depth plots and stories. With the Pokémon games, you really should know the story of what you’re going to be doing throughout the game. They’re usually very story-driven—doing things and leveling up to get to the next plot point and beat the game. Oblivion is the only other RPG I remember playing very recently, and I was fairly interested in the story—not just for the main game, but for the sidequests as well (when I wasn’t running around picking flowers and making potions).
I asked some people on Facebook what they thought. Here are screenshots of what some people said:
And here’s my best friend’s response…it was just humorous, so I’m throwing it in.
And now for my humble blanket opinion on story in games: I love story in games. If it entices me, I will pay attention. If I don’t care enough, I won’t. Not everything needs a story behind it. That’s why it’s fun reading fanfictions about games like Pong and Solitaire—they’re ridiculous and sometimes very stupid.
I’ve probably left out a lot of details and a lot of games, so please say what you think in the comments!