Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

What Game Designers Can Learn From Fortune Tellers

Posted by Rampant Coyote on January 18, 2013

Line Hollis has a post that has probably been around a while, but was recently re-posted to her blog, comparing storytelling to fortune-telling. She contrasts the differences between the Persona games and Fallout: New Vegas, and how for her, Persona wins in the narrative category (I’d probably agree with her):

Game Stories and Fortunetelling

I really like this line of thought. I’ve used The Sims as an example in similar discussions – the deliberate vagueness of the behaviors (including the use of gibberish for dialog) allows the player free to frame the events with his or her own context and interpretation. Reading the book “Understanding Comics” really helped crystallize this for me. I was in a lecture by Chris Crawford where he touched on this a little himself, years before The Sims proved his point, as he talked about storytelling ‘atoms’ that can change based on context.

I think this is a ripe area to explore in gaming narrative, and really can lead to richer stories – partly because the player is actively involved in the storytelling process. The designer provides the narrative threads, but the player provides the context and puts them together. I don’t think it need be mutually exclusive from a more traditional branching storyline, either. As we talk about providing better, more meaningful stories in games, designers should consider that sometimes less really is more.

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