Square-Enix: Game Stories Can Be More Effective Than Movies
The role of storylines in games has changed over the years. There was a time when it was only a central theme in role-playing games, but as things have progressed, the plots have become more and more important in many different genres.
However, some people believe that gaming still isn't - and in fact, can't be - a storytelling medium. It really depends in how you look at the situation; the interactive aspect of a video game can indeed hinder the deep and cohesive storyline. But recent accomplishments, like what we saw in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, proves that storytelling in games has only just begun. And according to Square-Enix's Yoshinori Yamagishi (producer of Star Ocean: The Last Hope), he actually believes that games can become "the most effective storytelling medium over film and theater, if it can overcome the challenges of interactive entertainment." Said Yamagishi in a recent CVG interview:
"As opposed to films, books and TV, as a medium it is more of a challenge to produce a game in order to tell a story. In TV, film and theatre, the creator has control over how he gives the story to the viewer - it's easier to control the emotions and feelings expected from the viewer. But in [a game developer's] case we always have to think about how players might react to each depiction of a character or storyline, and that's the part we can't predict.
Nevertheless we have to make these predictions to a certain degree, and incorporate this into our work. So it's more of a challenge. But if we manage to get over this hurdle, then I regard videogames as a greater medium to provide people with deep emotional and exciting experiences."
It's an ongoing debate amongst the hardcore fans, but either way, we always appreciate ambition of almost any kind in the industry. If Yamagishi says it's possible, teams may begin to accept it as a possibility, and as an end result, the gamer should benefit. We always remember the fantastic stories in the past; memorable plots and characters leave an indelible mark on our minds. So as far as we're concerned, even if storytelling in games can't surpass other venues, there's no harm in trying.
3/7/2009 Ben Dutka