New Russian Chronicles
Surviving monotaxocausofilia

II – Videogames in their larger context

I like video games. Can I make a secret of it? Of course I can’t. And you know what? I am proud of it, video games have given me a lot. Yeah, it has to be accepted, video games can be a form of literature. Of course, most video games used to be just like pulp literature, Some story with some shooting and adventure mixed in, and that was about it. It was a new medium, so it’s not surprising. But with time video games were more complex, and designers started improving the games not from the technical side (better graphics are a sales argument only up to a point) but also giving the video games more complex and nuanced stories, novel ways of playing… making it more of an experience. Just imagine, even some shooters have interesting stories.

Maybe what I’m trying to get to is that games are just part of a bigger concept, which I shall call “storytelling”. Actual story telling, books, radio, tv, comics, role playing games, video games,… all of it is part of that concept, that big thing that is, still today, one of the main avenues of expression and entertainment of mankind, storytelling. One could also argue that story telling has two main branches, passive story telling, as books or TV, and interactive storytelling, where the listener interacts with the story, as in role playing games or video games. There might be gray areas (how much storytelling is there in a board game) but the concept is the same whatever the media used.

So yeah, now that I’ve explained that, I think it is clear that I am a big consumer of storytelling. I am also an avid reader, and I still think that actual reading has something special in comparison with other media, maybe because it’s one of the simpler and older ways of storytelling, but in light of my little theory it gets a bit difficult to criticize those who prefer other (easier?) ways of storytelling. That goes even for the medium I like less of all, TV.

Another implication of what I just said about reading would be that the oldest, simplest and most direct form of storytelling is, precisely, someone telling a story to other in person. There is something really special about that. It’s not done a lot, at least that I know, so in my mind it’s a bit of a forgotten craft. I wonder if there are small, marginal groups of people who get together just to tell stories. And I don’t mean role players, I mean proper stories.
A rough classification coming straight from the top of my head would be this:
Passive storytelling:

– Proper storytelling
– Reading books
– Listening to the radio (music doesn’t count, of course)
– Watching series on TV or w/e.
And of course any hybrid thereof, including the summit of nerdiness I so enjoy, watching “Let’s Play videos.

interactive storytelling

– Role playing games
– Certain boardgames, if taken as a story and not just a game
– ???
– video games

And maybe at the top of this list we could include kids games,when they invent stories on the go. That, I think, is the purest form of interactive storytelling, just as Telling a Story is the purest form of passive storytelling. Kids are awesome when playing.

Vaguely related, in French… but still Art worth of geniuses:
Just watch it, dammit!


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