Games Are Most Remembered For Their Stories
As I’ve said many times in the past, narrative has reached a new high in gaming. It’s at that point where a game can be considered art just based on its story alone. There’s also the gameplay aspect which is obviously very important because otherwise you would just be playing a visual novel. Well,some visual novels are kind of considered as games oh whatever. But I’ve been pondering recently about the games that I most remember throughout my time as a gamer and the only real standout examples I have are ones that have great narratives and brilliantly designed characters. The gameplay kind of fell on the wayside and I don’t really consider it that much.
It might sound insane, that big paragraph at the top, but let me give you an example. In my early stages of gaming I played quite a bit of Counter Strike and I enjoyed it most of the time. But that game is just shooting a bunch of dudes with weapons you buy. I don’t really remember it fondly because of a few cool headshots I got or that one time I knifed a guy. Then there’s another game I played in that same period of time and that was Final Fantasy VIII on the PS1. I have so many fond memories of that game in terms of the story and the characters that I fell in love with. That sticks with me more than a few flashbangs ever could. Because of FFVIII, I’m now a fan of JRPGs and I’ve always sought after more story driven games.
Then I started wondering about the overall picture. Games such as The Last of Us and BioShock Infinite weren’t really that well praised for their gameplay elements and while they were more than functional, their revolutionary stories and settings were what kept the attention of the gaming populace. Mass Effect never had amazing gameplay, yet it’s one of the most loved game franchises out there. On the other hand, Call of Duty games have amazing gameplay. It’s polished, functional and satisfying, yet people are tired of the franchise even if the gameplay has (arguably) improved with every iteration. Do you see my point here?
I have been notified by some people that I like to generalize a lot. Not everyone thinks like me. I understand people often don’t want complex narratives and thought provoking campaigns and just like to shoot things up for a while. It’s mindless and fun, which was gaming’s original intention. I understand that. But my question is, will those games be remembered for that in the long run? Some of them will. I have no doubt Dota will be fondly remembered by many, many gamers and that’s an entirely gameplay driven game. Some of them do achieve that level of love from a gamer, even if it’s just mechanics based. They like to have fun and the game provides them with the means in which to have that fun.
For me, personally, the games I will remember will be the games that made me feel emotions other than visceral joy. Games that captivated me and transported me into another world. Games that have characters in them that I would consider family even if they are just pixels on a screen. Those games stick with me more than all the warfighters and falling titans. Maybe that’s just me. Maybe you think differently and I welcome that.