Storytelling and Narrative
Storytelling is a feature of daily experience. We do it without thinking about it when we recount some experience we have had, whether it is the story of how the golf match went with our friends, or a fiction made up for story time with our children. We also consume stories continually—fictional ones through novels, movies, plays, and television; nonfictional ones through books, documentaries, and the news media.
Video games often include fictional stories that go beyond the events of the games themselves. Game designers add stories to enhance a game's entertainment value, to keep the player interested in a long game, and to help sell the game to prospective customers.
This chapter looks at how to weave a story into a game. It focuses mostly on games that rely heavily on stories, though the chapter covers stories within all genres. We'll examine what makes a good story and how to keep the stories from overwhelming the gameplay of a video game. The terms interactive story and narrative are defined, followed by a discussion of linear and nonlinear storytelling and mechanisms you can use to advance the plot. Then we'll address scripted conversations, which allow the player to participate in dialog with nonplayer characters (NPCs). The chapter concludes with the topic of episodic storytelling in games, which the Internet has helped to make possible.