Authors: Md Faizuddin Ansari, Prasen Biswas, KM Varsha Verma, Tausif Ahmed, Shipra Shrivastava
Certificate: View Certificate
In these days video games are most popular and today most of the people spend their time playing video games. A Game can have multiple Genre like Adventure, action, Puzzle or RPG games where they can become the main protagonist. Do computer games tell stories or not and how to make a game more use a storytelling adventure having limitless possible creativity and art. Any one can share their story with game development.
Do computer games tell stories or not? try to focus on different views by discussing both the perspective of the gaming industry, what they want to play and the academic perspective. While discussing narrativity, game designers and game researchers often talk at cross-purposes. I, myself, do not and it hard to see narrative structures in computer games. Many of the recent games follow a pattern that we are familiar with from movies and popular literature. But one main difference between games and other narrative genres concerns the audience’s role; in computer games the players must interact with the story, something that challenges the linearity of the narrative structure. The storyline of a computer game is often a branching one, which complicates the game’s ability to tell a compelling story in the way we are used to. The term “branching storyline” is thus not easy to do. In the article I discuss different non-linear story structures found in computer games and I try to show the narrative benefits and drawbacks with different structures. Throughout the article there are many examples from computer games which aim to give a nuanced understanding of computer games as narrative genre. It is not about reading a story; it is about playing it.
Why discuss computer games in the first place? Obviously, because this medium expands and becomes more important every year. Today it is a strong part of our popular culture. For example, computer games attract many people, and the number of players grows all the time. The market value of India’s gaming industry was around 90 billion Indian rupees in financial year 2020. This was estimated to go up to over 143 billion rupees by 2022. The industry has been evolving at a rapid pace in the country, and analysts predict over 40 thousand new job opportunities by 2022. In India, children between 9 and 16 years old played computer games between 40 and 60 minutes a day. A similar tendency can be observed in the USA; computer and video games were sold for about 5.65 billion dollars in 2000 (ISDA report 2001, 6). Statistics also show that 43% of the gamers in the USA are women, 72% over 18 years old. Together, this tells us that the culture of playing computer games is becoming more widespread and more accepted overall. As Shown in fig below:
Games are part of our reality in modern society. It is therefore important that they undergo serious critical analysis. We must learn to study them so that we can understand the medium and its effect on humanity.
My primary purpose with this article is to continue discussing story-based games. In my contribution I aim to emphasize some characteristics that, in my opinion, distinguish the narrativity of computer games, such as narrative structure and non-linearity. As a linguistic researcher of text, I will emphasise the narrative structure as a variable used for communication between the sender and the receiver of the text. I will also discuss the benefits and drawbacks with the more and more common use of non-linearity. When discussing the latter, I will try to answer questions such as: Do the game designers want this? Does the audience, i.e., the players, want this? What do you win and what do you lose with a branching storyline?
A. Why story Based Games
Throughout the article, I will assert that computer games contain stories, especially games from the last 3 years. My analyses are mainly of games that the game industry describes as strategy games, role-playing-games, adventure games and First-person-shooters, as those games are often described as epic games. Still, they do not behave as traditional narratives. The main difference is that computer games cannot function on their own, the games need at least one player who plays the game and interacts with the story. This means that the story is not in the box, it is found in the interplay between the code and its users The main similarity with traditional narratives is that both derive their emotional power from the player’s or the reader’s uncertainty of the outcome. How will the game end? However, while a story in literature is generated by a storyteller, a game partly lacks the storyteller. It is the players themselves who take the plot forward. They narrate their own actions. A light in a printed story is pre-determined; in a game the outcome of the light depends on the player’s skill. But it is important to remember that even when the player seems to be the narrator in an electronic text, he or she is playing a role determined by the program and the fictional world (see Genshin Impact 2020). The game does have its point of departure in a frame story, and it is that story that makes the player’s actions logical and acceptable. The frame story is by a storyteller but do players experience that they are taking part in a story? would argue that they do. Many players can easily accept that they are following a storyline while they are playing a game. If I, for example, ask someone in the middle of playing od Genshin Impact and what it is about I am likely to get an answer like “It is about a story a brother who lost her sister and he need to explore the world and find out what happened to her.” Another gamer is playing Far Cry 5 and his or her answer will be something like “A group of soldier comes to arrest a powerful leader of a cult and found themself stuck in an island and now they have to survive, Eliminate the enemy.”
This means that the walk through is just a guide to the story, it is not the story. The walk through just allows another player to repeat the story in a successful way. But, once or twice the walk through is composed like a story, for example The First Tree, A game which tells a story about the narrator while a fox finding their children, but this is not common. I will, thus, maintain that most of the players believe that they are experiencing a story while playing the game.
If we proceed to the game industry it is also obvious that the game producing companies present their games as stories. Interplay describes their best-selling game Genshin Impact as follows
“Some ambitions have the power to heal wounds, to bring victory, to inspire hope. But some ambitions, outlive their masters, long after their soul ascends. They remain as they were in the beginning, burning bright and true, for all eternity. ”
“Humans are just fascinating creatures, that's why I'm so fond of them. They live such short lives, but for the time they're around, they shine as bright as the midday sun.”
“On stormy days, the people of Inazuma chant "kuwabara, kuwabara," believing that this will protect themselves from being struck by lightning. You need not worry about any storm summoned by my own hand — they will bring you no harm. Lightning storms that occur naturally, however, can be more unpredictable. Game”
Observe the opening two words “you” in these presentations. The player is in focus right from the start. This denotes that it is not about any ordinary story, it is about an interactive story. The story is not found in the game itself, only in the interaction between player and game.
But this kind of narrative is not accepted by Some games. I mean that it is important to understand that there are at least three different layers of storytelling in games, one is out-of-game storytelling, which includes cutscenes during which the player loses control over his character. Another is in-game storytelling that occurs while the player is playing the game as in dynamic conversations etc. The third kind of storytelling is found in external materials, which include any storytelling made outside the computer such as in the game manual. If, like Fortnite, you are just looking at the in-game storytelling, you are not analysing the game. Despite this, programmers and designers of computer games maintain that they are working with stories. Scott Osborne argues for example that “One constant in gaming’s short history has been designers’ attempts to tell stories” (Osborne 2001). But he continues, this has not been an easy task. With the development of the computer, the processors and the video cards, visuality has taken canter stage. It is important to present fantastic realms, world graphics and content on the screen. But the use of visuals has, according to Osborne, hurt the game’s ability both to tell stories, and to make you feel like an active part of them. He writes: “Because of the third-person perspective and the small scale of the Figures on screen, playing feels more like watching an animated more than being in the world yourself.” The visual techniques of today’s computer games cannot tell a complex story by themselves and so, according to Osborne, the game designers are referred to the use of written parts for disclosing more detailed information. Over the last years, the designing of computer games has switched focus, from creating exciting gameplay to telling epic stories, but without using the benefits of close-ups etc. This means that many games neither give justice to the story nor to the play. As I understand Osborne, the ability of creating fantastic realms by using impressive video technique has placed the experience of computer game players somewhere between watching a Film and playing a game. Now days people create logic game which only invest the time and effort making people to involve in a game. computer game genre that seems to be of great importance when discussing if computer games can be called stories or not is the role-playing-game (RPG). In RPGs there is always a reason behind the player’s actions. The RPG has its roots in role-playing where the the player goes to a world gives and gets mission (for example time, environment, tasks, puzzle etc.) for an adventure in which the other participants interact as “protagonist”. You can say that the story of the adventure becomes a bone between the player capacity of creating an inspiring atmosphere and the interaction of the other players. Whenever the players’ characters act in some way, the choices they made will decide the result. In the digital environment, the RPG must rely on the programmed story, the computer cannot change the outcome afterwards. Also, the players are not as free as in oral role-playing. Both oral and digital RPGs must rely on tempting stories and – and this is important – on compelling frameworks for play to attract players. Game designer Gavin Moore points out one rule that states that the story of computer games should always make the player the focus. The player is integral to the plot, and all events should revolve around him (2001, see also Rouse 2001, 39) Baltimore and London: John Hopkins UP. Game designer Warren Spector wonders whether the quality of the story has anything to do with the game’s success and claims that the stories of digital RPGs can seldom be described as strikes of narrative genius (Spector 1999). He writes that “it’s tough to tell a great story when you can’t recreate a young lover’s shy smile or allow players to tell a joke rather than bludgeon somebody.” The players’ creativity in digital RPGs is not as free as in oral RPGs. The stories in the computer games become more conventional and this, according to Spector, has a negative effect on the quality of the narrative. Pascal Luban, another game designer, is not as pessimistic as Spector and Osborne. He agrees with them saying that today the game industry is not able to tell a story in the way a movie or a novel does. However, Luban maintains that the game industry is very close to recreating the experience of, for example, watching a movie. It is obvious that the game developers think more and more about storytelling when developing a game. Even if I am not convinced that the commercial success of a game depends on the quality of the story,1 it is obvious that the game industry today puts a lot of time and energy into story writing. And as I see it, this will have a positive effect in the future. Computer games will develop towards both more exciting game play and more fascinating stories. It is clear from the discussion above that the borders between narrative and game play are rather blurred. All the writers cited above agree that the main function of computer games is game playing but there is a dividing line between game theorists who claim that game playing cannot go hand in hand with narrative storytelling and game designers that say the opposite. I understand the theorists’ arguments, but I am not sure that they are being fair to the games. Many computer games aim to let the player unfold a story based on a narrative structure while playing. It is not just about playing; it is also about being a hero, solving a plot or participating in a drama. And this perspective is important for an understanding of the medium.
B. To Tell a Story in a Different View
Every Player has a different perspective while playing a game and how they want to continue. Some player skips the story and focus on the game play and some players focus on the side story rather than the game, some players want to explore the world collect materials and stuff and enjoy. If we accept the opinion that computer games do tell stories we must ask ourselves, what kind of stories do they tell? Do they tell the same stories as we end in written literature? Does programmer make player watch the story, No, computer games cannot be compared to written text. One main reason is that it shows what built in and player goes as they want to go, which takes a linguistic quality as given but in a wider perspective game can be compared to texts. A minor problem here is whether we can see games as a well-done unit with a beginning and an end, and if the story in the game belongs in a social setting. I mean, which I will try to discuss further later in the article, that these assumptions can be accepted for most computer games.
In Game Development story should be involved to the player weather he wants to know about the story of the game or not if they don’t then story shouldn’t affect the gameplay. For example, when I play Genshin impact in my choice I like to know about the story of the game, every about the origin, lore, exploration of the game but my friend wants to play the game then he just wants to kill boss, destroy everything comes and skip the story, which is just a perspective of playing the game. The most import thing to play a game is to enjoy the game. Game Dev should predict all the possible scenario of the game which is going to made by the player.
C. Good Graphic to support the story
The graphics of the story should support the story and let it feel natural and complete. Colour tone, shader material and post processing of any game should be equivalent to the story. For Example, if a story is sad then the light graphics won’t have much impact to the player. Addition to that the minimal amount of the time investing in a story should be differ in what is going on the game and player. Most of the Game Don’t reach the bar because of the quality of the game and how is represented in that game. Some Developer go with the captions to go with the story, and some go with the animations and audio, in my perspective both are great in own representations, the captions story doesn’t affect the Gameplay and it goes with player to weather they want to read understand or not. The Animation and audio story has a big impact on audience rather than simple caption story, but it is mostly not skippable due the to animation and flow of the story. Mostly animation part required a good implantation of realism and collaboration of an audio material which is quite difficult to programmer.
II. TYPES OF NARRATIVES IN A GAME
In a game to control there are different methods like Actions, Level, trigger, collider or if you met the certain conditions then story follows that way. To Get the cut scene or store going there are different methods to narrate the story.
A. Embedded narrative
This type of Story is pre decided and controlled by the game creator. All the story ending cut scenes are fixed and it is fixed by the game creator to act that way. You are just following the direction creator added for you. For example, in Genshin Impact game when player enters the game there is a cutscene you must watch and follow the exact pattern the creator told you to, which is fixed. Even if you try to change by doing something different then story goes then it will force you to get back on the story or you would not clear the level. So to get A to B, you must follow the condition required to pass. It can be either collet something or push some button or defeat an enemy which is completely pre decided by the creator and level would not increase if you don’t meet the certain condition.
B. Emergent Narrative
In this type the player intractions can change the course of the story.Whenever trigger happens player can change the caurse of the story by manupulating the conditions. For example in Detroid become humans video game the choices you have can change the outcome of the story. The game is created to have multiple ending according to the choices of the player wheather to do something or don’t. It impacts the game and although you will miss some ending but it will follow the consequences the player chose himself. Another example in Genshin Impact the Character story of 4* can have multiple ending. The question they answer and decision player makes gives the different ending every time. In these type of narration the game solely rely on the player. In figure 4 , to get A to B,C,D there are some choice and choices decides which ending will be. The rest of the story will be unknown
C. Evocative Narrative
This solely rely on the knowledge of the player. The creativity created by the creator help to understand the concept of the story.It rely on cennections, memories and imaginations. It uses Imaginations rather then explaining the whole story like trail of blood, posters , environment ,waterfall and how to expect when you see these things.
Sometimes it also includes the frenchise of a movie so player has already have an idea about the game story.
The creator depends upon the player and player depends on the references included in the game without having explained by the creator.Sometimes player don’t recongnise the element added in the story and also player experience differently then the creator intended to. Player narrates the game with their own prespective. Therefore everytime player play the game they experience and discover new things in the game.
In figure 5 the story of the game depends upon the player to recognise the pattern and element (box is representation of elements in the game) to follow up the story.
D. Enactive Narrative
Enacted narratives rely on players developing their characters. Story elements such as power-upgrades and levelling up use enacted narratives. These narratives are usually in single-player games that emphasise character growth. It involves the player only and more focused on the game rather than the story. In figure 6 player can choose how to complete the story either act on it or skip the part which is enactive narration.
Most of the game is created upon in those types of narrations which is sometimes have all the narrations for example, as “Main quest”, “Side Quest”, “limited Quest”,and last type is the quest which is not really important to complete it just supports the game.
Main Quest is essential to complete for invole further in the game.
Side Quest is important because it is related to the main quest.
Limited Quest is to player to complete or ignore the story
4. See also Henry Jenkings statements that “Not all games tell stories” (2002). So, it is important to see difference between computer games genre when discussing narrativity.
5. Check out the Genshin Impact Game which has many examples in this paper
6. . Far cry series having telling the narrations in a different way
7. Also checkout the game Detroid becomes human for a story who involve around the player Evocation narration
8. . Example of a linear game & Embedded narration checkout the “The first tree ” game
As I have shown in this paper that there are different ways and methods to tell the story in a game. The story can enhance the player experience in the game to explore further and finding out the story which is different then watching a movie. Computer games tell the story in a different manner where player become the protagonist and live the story throughout the game. In Indian gaming industry solely rely on the small brain games rather than investing on a big game which get the historical architecture and myths that are created in India. The games have so many keys to narrate the story Embedded, Emergent, Evocative, Enactive narration. All these types have different impact on the story. Most of the Game Don’t reach the bar because of the quality of the game and how is represented in that game. Some Developer go with the captions to go with the story, and some go with the animations and audio. In Game Development story should be involved to the player weather he wants to know about the story of the game or not if they don’t then story shouldn’t affect the gameplay. All the writers cited above agree that the main function of computer games is game playing but there is a dividing line between game theorists who claim that game playing cannot go hand in hand with narrative storytelling and game designers that say the opposite. We proceed to the game industry it is also obvious that the game producing companies present their games as stories. Games are part of our reality in modern society. It is therefore important that they undergo serious critical analysis. We must learn to study them so that we can understand the medium and its effect on humanity. kind of narrative is not accepted by Some games. I mean that it is important to understand that there are at least three different layers of storytelling in games, one is out-of-game storytelling, which includes cutscenes during which the player loses control over his character. Another is in-game storytelling that occurs while the player is playing the game as in dynamic conversations etc. The third kind of storytelling is found in external materials, which include any storytelling made outside the computer such as in the game manual. Most of the game is created upon in those types of narrations which is sometimes have all the narrations for example, as “Main quest”, “Side Quest”, “limited Quest”,and last type is the quest which is not really important to complete it just supports the game. All the point are represented here support the story in a game. Computer Games do not make new stories. They just change the way how old story told. They let us be the main of the story and let us play the story.
 “Playing the story : Computer Games as Narrative Genre” by Jonas Carquist.  Storytelling in video games by Brackeys https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQgmPJYUiqw  Cybertext: Perpectives on Ergodic Literature. Baltimore and London: John Hopkins UP.  “Using the Hero’s Journey in Games.” Gamasutra (2000). 13 Feb. 2001.  “Telling Stories without Telling Them: A Rebuttal.” Gamespy editorials April (2001).  Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals by Katie Salen  The Narrative and Ludic Nexus in Computer Games: Diverse world II byBrand Jefferey E. & Knight Scott J.  https://ellemcfadzean.com/4-types-of-narrative-in-games/  Video Game narratives: Beyond the Game-Play by Andrzej Zarzycki  . http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pong and http://www.ponggame.org/  http://www.thegamescouts.com/2012/11/assassins-creed-iii-review.html  The Game Debate: Video Games as Inno The Game Debate: Video Games as Innovative Storytelling telling by Melissa Somerdin  Why Story Matters: A review of the Narrative In serious game by Emily Naul, Min Lui https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0735633119859904  attempts to tell stories” (Osborne 2001) Game That Are Mentioned In This Paper  Far cry series https://www.ubisoft.com/en-gb/game/far-cry/far-cry-6\\\\  Genshin Impact https://genshin.hoyoverse.com/pc-launcher/?utm_source=NA_google_GLB_performancemax_20220126&mhy_trace_channel=ga_channel&new=1&gclid=CjwKCAjws8yUBhA1EiwAi_tpEZ5GvJh1z28-VXS8nN95KZNXRCFDXnDKJtaXpafvY-SmmmFQRhv1kBoCAb0QAvD_BwE#/GI008  Detroid becomes human https://store.steampowered.com/agecheck/app/1222140/  The First Tree https://store.steampowered.com/app/555150/The_First_Tree/
Copyright © 2022 Md Faizuddin Ansari, Prasen Biswas, KM Varsha Verma, Tausif Ahmed, Shipra Shrivastava . This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.