Posts Tagged ‘narrative’

A Sims Story: Alice & Kev

June 17, 2009
Zev goes grocery shopping

Zev goes grocery shopping

Narrative in video games is a topic close to my heart. I want to believe that video games can tell compelling, dramatic stories. Most games that I do declare to have excellent stories, however, end up needing the qualifier “for a video game.”

So I’m constantly looking for ways that narrative and video games intersect, and this project by a British game design student is an excellent example. Robin Burkinshaw is conducting an experiment that turns stories in gaming on its head to explore the stories you make up yourself while playing.

Using the Sims 3, he has created a pair of memorable characters and using his blog to tell their story. The beauty of the Sims is the characters have specific personality traits, dreams and goals and you let them loose to watch how they interact together.


He created a family, Alice and her father, Kev, and made them wander the world of The Sims homeless. Kev is a disparaging asshole lunatic who is constantly putting his daughter down and Alice is a miserable teen with no friends.

The brilliance of Burkinshaw’s project is the stories he weaves on his blog about his two characters. Kev persecutes and insults his daughter with zeal while she’s around. When she is not, he tries to mack on ladies in his wife beater and underwear. Alice is constantly depressed whose friendship goals are thwarted when her targets are repulsed by her desire to sleep in their comfortable beds and take a shower when invited into their homes.

Here’s an excerpt: (more…)


Ghostbusters: The Video Game {review}

June 16, 2009

Here’s a copy of my latest review for the Omaha City Weekly. I’ll post the link to the site later after it’s up.

You just know they’re going to cross the streams

Fighting Stay Puft

Fighting Stay Puft

This is the Ghostbusters game fans across the world have been waiting for. It is as close to a true successor to the original films as could be hoped, and the paragon of how to turn a successful movie franchise into a great video game.

Children of the 80s will want to play this game. While it still does not hold a candle to the movies, the plot is so entrenched in their mythology that it feels like an organic growth of the franchise.

I was one of those kids who was a Ghostbuster for Halloween. I had all the toys… literally, ALL the toys. I had all the lines memorized. I watched the cartoon. Suffice it to say I had high expectations for this game. I am happy to announce it has met them all. (more…)

Narrative in gaming presents barriers and opportunities

February 17, 2009

Jon Christensen at /gamer makes a good point here based on an clip of an interview of David Jaffe:

There are many reasons why video games don’t tell an incredible story, one huge reason for me is the character development. In order to have a true masterpiece in storytelling, the person reading/watching the tale must truly care about the main character. Sadly, there has yet to be a game where I truly hope the main star achieves his goal. I believe many factors contribute to this, but one main reason always sticks out of my mind. The person we play as — never dies. Sure, most games we play; the character can get shot, fall off a cliff, get stabbed to death, run over etc…but we can select continue and the story is back where it left off. There is not a punishment, we always know he/she always wins in the end — as long as we put the time and effort into it. So, how could we care for someone/something if for the most part — works out in the end.

via /gamer -> David Jaffe Believes Games Don’t Tell a Great Story and Why We Agree!

Jaffe is best known for directing God of War and the Twisted Metal series, neither of which hang their laurels on narrative. But it seems we all three agree there are major hurdles for game designers to overcome if they want their games’ stories to be considered great. Especially difficult when many of them seem to be working in revenue-focused corporatations (as they should be, just saying its not an environment that’s conducive to creativity).

I really don’t see the medium as being able to weave a tale as complex and profound as The Godfather anywhere in the near future. But it is far more valuable to judge pieces within their media as opposed to comparing to pieces in other media. (more…)