Since the start of Blogging101, I’ve met my share of creative and insightful folks, scattered across the g33ky spectrum. These writers, gamers, designers and advanced users of brain magic have all contributed to my growing commitment to this crazy new world of blogging, and I’m very grateful to have been privy to their own creative evolutions.
There was one post recently that forced my brain down a new line of thought. I’ve been a committed gamer since I first played Asteroids on Atari, and have witnessed the entire evolution of gaming since. That being said, I’d never considered the role battle systems have to play in story telling, as this author so brilliantly points out. While it’s fairly obvious what kind of impact a great story and beautiful imagery can have on how immersive a game is, SilentScribe insists that battle systems have a role to play here too, in what she regards as the “negative space” in a game. This negative space isn’t filled with battle systems alone, but with item descriptions, seemingly unimportant NPC interactions, signs on buildings, etc. As we explore this negative space between game-relevant actions and events, it can reveal a new layer of narrative that we might otherwise overlook as we move from event to event. This narrative layer creates a supporting story we may never encounter in the linear game, and forces our minds deeper into the story as we begin to ponder the whys and hows of each new piece of information presented. If any of that sounds interesting to you, I suggest taking a peek at her blog. It’s a goldmine of games, and a thorough examination of stories in gaming.
This topic also forced me to consider which story has drawn me in the deepest throughout my gaming career. After much thought, I had to go with Final Fantasy 6 (it was released as 3 in North America, initially). A Super Nintendo title, this game was released at a time when stories in gaming were fairly thin, uninteresting, and not very rewarding. The negative space described above was filled to the brim with facts and clues, all pointing to a complex political situation in the world, and reinforced by the gameplay elements that made this title such a marquee of achievement in the RPG universe. Not only did I become completely invested in the characters and their stories, the world (as described by negative space elements) forced my inquisitive mind to be in the story with them. If you’ve never played it, you’re missing out!
Thanks SilentScribe – and stay g33ky friends!