Gamespot surprised me today with a long and detailed feature on storytelling in games by Greg Kasavin. From the intro:
I share the theory that the game industry is like a private eye who’s so busy following the wrong lead that he lets his real target slip right through his fingers. Look at what games are doing: They’re pushing more polygons and piling on more features. It’s the equivalent of adding more explosions to an action movie; at some point, you start to get diminishing returns for your crazy budget even as the whole thing just turns dumb.
I think game designers should be pursuing a much more elusive objective: tapping into the true potential of this medium, using it to give the game player an eye-opening, virtually life-changing experience and turning the game player’s world completely upside-down. And I believe the only way to accomplish this is through storytelling–using a game to tell a good story. This does not mean tacking a best-selling author onto a game as an afterthought; this means fundamentally constructing a game out of a story.
Seriously, I am still waiting for games-as-literature. I just finished a book by Harold Bloom, the guy who argued that Shakespeare literally invented modern consciousness. That claim seems rather, er, extreme, but true or not, I’d love for people to be claiming the same thing about some game designer in a couple hundred years.