The On The Video Game Essay

The On The Video Game Essay

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The absence of an envelope-bearing owl soured the sweet taste of cake icing on my eleventh birthday. I cannot be the only child who dutifully waited until twelve o’clock that evening before relinquishing the hope that I, too, could join the ranks of pubescent witches and wizards at a school where magic is reality: Hogwarts. That is the magnificence of a story; we can harness the beauty of ideas and imagination to muddle that line between the epic of a fantasy and the mundane rhythms of everyday life. Humans have long relished the art of the story, and we have crafted novels of incredible depth and intricacy, but some believe that our increasingly computer-minded era requires a mode of storytelling that better complements developing technology. Enter the video game. Gone are the days of Space Invaders and Pac-Man, which featured entertaining gameplay but lacked any narrative. Modern players crave games rich in story, and consequently the videogames that boast impressive plotlines typically become bestsellers. Many games even give the player choices that create the illusion that she is participating in shaping the plot. Although video games are the more interactive storytelling medium, the novel allows for superior narratives; nevertheless, both benefit and improve their audiences.
What if audience members could weave their unique characters and values into a narrative? By engaging the reader or player through interactivity, a story can assume a level of personal gravity and emotional proximity otherwise unattainable. Novels do not often grant their readers narrative influence, save for the rare, and often poorly written, “choose your own adventure” book, as they “portray . . . the story as a thing recounted” (Dubbelman 160). Howev...


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...shooters, such as Call of Duty or Bioshock, have better spatial awareness than those who do not play.
Although both novels and video games greatly benefit their audiences, until developers consistently produce games with high-quality narratives, novels will remain the superior storytelling medium. However, if games were developed to implement narrative tactics, then, due to their interactivity, they could offer a highly intellectual and immersive experience, which could potentially surpass that of the novel. As games expand to include poetry and lore, the bridge between playing and reading diminishes; what we are left with is a novel that we experience first hand. Like many avid readers, I often wish to inhabit the worlds of the stories that I read, be it Wonderland, Westeros, or Narnia; with developments in the video game industry, this may not be far from reality.

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