Forums - Gaming Discussion - Jonathan Blow: "Videogames are terrible for telling stories"

Mystro-Sama said:
Mr.Playstation said:
While I disagree that Video Games can tell a story at the same level as movies, I disagree with what Jonathan Blow said since various video games have shown that an excellent story can be told through this medium.


What do movies have over games exactly?


Pacing and no difficulty spikes ;p



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translation: i dont know how to tell a story in video games, and the witness has zero story elements what so ever. so might as well say that video games are shit for story telling.



Goodnightmoon said:

Videogames are way behind cinema and literature, that´s how it is. Most of them have shitty stories, but people have a terrible criteria so any blockbuster shit looks gold to them.

There are some brilliant exceptions though, videogames can be an awesome way to tell stories, but for now, they are not.


the exact same thing can be said about movies. 



RCTjunkie said:
I.... what? What are his credentials? What games has he worked with?

A mediocre platformer in 2008. Braid.



Mystro-Sama said:

http://www.play-mag.co.uk/interview/videogames-are-terrible-for-telling-stories-says-jonathan-blow/

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I think this might be one of the dumbest things i've ever heard, and coming from a developer at that. Personally I think video games surpassed movies in story telling. Theres nothing a movie can do that a game can't.

I agree with him. You can't control the pace of the narration, the player does. And many other bigor small problems for great storytelling. That doesn't mean storytelling is impossible or anything, but it is far more difficult. And if you really think video games surpassed movies in storytelling, then you should put it to the test: make a playthrough video of your favorite video game and then get your friends together to "watch a cool movie" together. Get Popcorn and beer and then let all sit down in front of the TV and you put in the playthrough video. Enjoy!



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I don't think games are terrible for telling stories, I just think storytelling in general sucks in games. Very few games actually have a well written story. Most AAA games today have the production values equivalent of a big budget film but still tell stories very much like a low budget b-movie. The industry needs to do a better job hiring actual writers. I don't mean occasionally commissioning a Hollywood writer to write for one or two games. Publishers need to hire full-time writers.



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exdeath said:

Spoken obviously by someone who's never played Xenogears, Xenosaga, Xenoblade Chronicles, Final Fantasy 4, The Last of Us, Ni no Kuni,  etc.

Some games like Xenogears even transcend their physical media and hardware platform.

Did you read the article?



Mystro-Sama said:
Locknuts said:
I agree with him. Books and film are far superior. The best stories in games are the ones you discover yourself while playing such as the audio logs in System Shock/Bioshock/Dead Space or text you find lying about the place. Stories told via cutscenes are stupid and immersion-breaking.


I feel the complete opposite. What breaks the immersion is stopping to pick up those damn audiologs while standing there and listening to them or getting hit by enemies while trying to listen to it.

Immersion is not the same as storytelling. Games are good in other areas, but storytelling is behind movies and even more behind books, because game developers cannot control the story in the same way a movie director or a book author can, as the player can always decide to do something else as what was intended and breaking the storyline in that. "Oh, the world is threatened by this incredible force, so as the main character in the story I decide to do some fetch quests first to level up before facing that boss."



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StarOcean said:
Eh, same goes for books and movies in my case. For me at least, video games are the best for telling stories.

Video games can be more fun to play than watch a movie or read a book. But not because of the storytelling. It's like saying you enjoyed a joyride at an amusement park, because the storyline was so great. Entertainment has many facettes, and the interactivity of video gaming is something books and movies don't offer, still they can have the more detailed stories.



3DS-FC: 4511-1768-7903 (Mii-Name: Mnementh), Nintendo-Network-ID: Mnementh, Switch: SW-7706-3819-9381 (Mnementh)

my greatest games: 2017, 2018, 2019

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Mnementh said:

Immersion is not the same as storytelling. Games are good in other areas, but storytelling is behind movies and even more behind books, because game developers cannot control the story in the same way a movie director or a book author can, as the player can always decide to do something else as what was intended and breaking the storyline in that. "Oh, the world is threatened by this incredible force, so as the main character in the story I decide to do some fetch quests first to level up before facing that boss."

I don't agree with this. While books and movies are unmatched when it comes to focused storytelling, games have that advantage that their worlds and characters inhabiting them can be more fleshed out and more intricate than in books and movies. Every details of the game can be fleshed out and a carrier for a part of the story. While in movies, everything has to have an impact for the limited time that detail has on screen, and in books, too much details given makes it tedious to read (see Tolkien). The potential is simply not the same. Each medium has their own strength and weaknesses. 

When it comes to video games, there are more and more good stories being told, but in general, it's not the medium that lags behind movies, but the writers and directors.