As I was listening to the SplitScreen Podcast, they brought up a concept that shaped the games that I choose to play. That concept was storytelling in games. What kind of story player/gamer was I? What kind of story gamer are you?
If anyone asked me why I chose to play games in the first place I always start with the same premise; I liked games because they were books that I got to “play” through. Instead of imagining the world, I got to see and experience the world first hand through the characters. I can even tell you the game that set it off, Final Fantasy 8.
One commercial on MTV of seeing Squall with his gunblade and Rinoa about to meet in the air for a possible kiss (?) and I was sold. I had no idea what was happening and I didn’t care. I didn’t want to play as myself in the game, I wanted to know Squall’s story in the game. Who was this girl? Why does he have that scar? Who is this beautiful women with the bed-frame on her back? What the fuck is going on here?
At some point in the game community there has been talk that the single player game, and by proxy traditional JRPGs, were dead/dying and the new wave is more western styled. What that meant, to me anyway, was that the style of being told a story was going away with the concept of making your own adventure was going to take over. I didn’t panic about it because thanks to indie studios I’ll always be able to find what I need. And if you’re in the gaming community and been around for a while, you know we thrive on hyperbole and competition.
There is nothing wrong with making your own character and inserting yourself in an adventure as the protagonist. If you have played an MMO that is usually how it plays out. You are dropped in an unknown (to you as the player) world and the story builds itself around you except you get to call the shots. I make the distinction because in single player games you are also thrown into the wild but the backstory is usually already decided for you and the player is tagging along.
Both game styles have a narrative to follow to an extend. Western style games may not hand hold you as much and you get to explore. You also get to make your avatar look however you want. Which is a very helpful thing if you’re a minority, woman or just don’t look like the “traditional” protagonist. It can be freeing in that regard. It also helps to circumvent issues surrounding diversity at least for a time.
This post was not to comment on which one was better. They both have their strong points, but it was more to ask, what kind of “story” gamer are you? Do you like to take a backseat and let the adventure happen? Or do you prefer to take charge and lead it yourself? Maybe you’re in the “both” camp but what shaped your gaming preferences. Feel free to share in the comments.
Until Next Time,
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DreaPoetic is your favorite neighborhood Otaku and JRPG enthusiast for the TAY family. You can follow me on Twitter at @Drea_Poetic04.