Originally posted on August 18, 2005
I’m finding it more and more important in entertainment to have a good story Or is that to have good entertainment in a story?
Oh sure at one time it was good enough to have a few guys dressed up as knights clacking coconuts together for a laugh but nonsensical fun can only go so far. That was when film was still a novelty. Okay, even today there’s not that many movies with decent stories, then again there’s not many decent movies period. No classics to be sure, just sequels.
It seems Hollywood has run out of original stories and so now it’s up to another entertainment form to be the storyteller. Games. They are taking the best of both worlds. The original stories that once upon a time you just sat back and listened to or watched and the interaction of puzzles and things that make your brain work. Thus immersing the player fully into the story. (Well not quite, that will come with holodecks)
This is not a new thing either. Adventure games have been doing this for over 20 years. Also edutainment titles almost as long, though most are geared towards young children. More recently though people playing First Person Shooters are becoming bored with shooting the same monsters over and over. So all our kids (and some adults) who sit in front of the computer 5 or more hours a day are becoming bored once again. Enter the story driven game. Now they can still run around shooting monsters, jumping on platforms, and going on quests but now they have a purpose. Strange stories involving photographing aliens to unravel a mystery or entering someone else’s mind to stop kids from being kidnapped have come around because of this.
So the good thing is people are starting to appreciate the power of a solid story. And yet we may be loosing something in our lives from this. As one story is just a varient of another, (how many times can you watch two people fall in love?) we are going extreme and loosing ourselves in stories that are not true. Our own history bores us. We no longer wish to sit around the fire while grandpa tells us of his war stories, or grandma of how she met grandpa. No we’d rather immerse ourselves in fictional worlds. Sensationalism is key now.
Okay some things like certain reality shows have the sensationalism and “real” life stories of everyday people. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not endorsing reality shows. I hate them in fact. I think they are the opposite of what is needed. While a cultural study on them would be interesting, if not scary, they don’t have much historical value.
Of course history wasn’t exactly my favorite subject in school. I have found, however, that as one grows older history becomes more interesting. Or maybe it’s just because it’s being presented in a more interesting form than a text book.
Some of the more interesting adventure games I’ve come across are based on historical events or has elements of history that one needs to know in order to finish the game. Sometimes, as with all entertainment, the actual facts are distorted, stretched, or otherwise right out lies, yet something can be garnered from these things. For example one of my all time favorite games, Gabriel Knight 3, has this completely interesting intrigue story based on real history. However the story takes some of these facts and makes its own conclusions where it has you in the end saving the world from vampires. Yet I still learned a lot from this game about Rennes-le-Chateau in France, the Templars and Catholicism.
If more stories could be told in interesting fashion like this one without the extreme sensationalism and misleading facts we might not lose so much of ourselves.
Author’s Post Script
Sometimes I feel like a hypocrite. After all I’m contributing to this escapism. I’ve created a few new universes that have nothing to do with history or something for the young to learn from. And yet I’m a sucker for a good story, my own, a game, or even a movie. And sometimes I like to find out Who’s on First even if it doesn’t have a happy ending.
In the end does it really matter?
I don’t know.