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Interactive Narratives: On Storytelling In Games - An introduction to a new semi-regular series

Matt Gardner
Interactive Narratives

Interactive Narratives: On Storytelling In Games - An introduction to a new semi-regular series

You may have noticed that we've been realigning our focus a bit here on Dealspwn over the past couple of months, the whole point of which has been to allow us more freedom and time to do the things I feel we do best: talking at length about games and this wonderful interactive entertainment industry. You'll see some dormant features return over the coming weeks (Click To Play has already made a comeback), as well as the launching of one or two new regular columns.

The narrative experience, and the exploration of narrative both in terms of traditional plotting and as a range of experiential devices that take advantage of the interactive nature of gaming, have always been enormously important to me. I grew up on RPGs and space sims and point-and-click adventure games -- titles that valued superb writing and excellent narrative design, but with many that simply provided the context and the tools for players to create their own experiences.

That's the beauty of gaming -- the very nature of interactive entertainment is such that players become a part of the story in a manner that's impossible in pretty much every other medium, barring perhaps interactive theatre (a la Punchdrunk). I love books and films and the performing arts, but it strikes me that gaming offers up narrative potential in a fashion unlike any other medium, and when it's well-worked, it can be the most powerful at spinning stories.

Interactive Narratives: On Storytelling In Games - An introduction to a new semi-regular series

With that in mind, from tomorrow I'm going to be starting a weekly feature that takes a look at all of that. I'm calling it Interactive Narratives, and it's going to be a transmedia extravaganza, a lofty phrase which simply means that some weeks there'll be written articles, some weeks there'll be videos, some there'll be audio recordings and interviews. It's all going to be rather freeform -- taking a look at some of the games that have stayed with me over the years, story-driven favourites, emotional journeys undertaken, interesting narrative devices, plots and people that have proven their quality, and hopefully interspersing analytical appraisals of these titles with discussions and opinions from the creators behind some of them.

Part of this is because I look around at mainstream games coverage and I don't see much that deals in this sort of thing (we'll hopefully be starting something similar to do with video game music composition and sound design somewhere down the line). But really, the origins of all of this is rather simple. I love video games, I love the stories that are possible to enjoy in this medium, whether I'm inhabiting a pre-written character or writing my own story as I play, and I really want to talk to a bunch of people about all of this. Especially the people who create these experiences, see what they have to say, and share the results.

So that's what I'm going to do.

Interactive Narratives is a weekly, transmedia feature looking at storytelling and narrative design in video games. It'll start airing on Wednesday evenings, here on Dealspwn.com.

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