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  • Everything Is Authored

    [07.12.18]
    - Gregory Pellechi
  • Every game is authored. To say otherwise is absurd, because there is nothing natural in a game, beyond what the player brings to it.

    "I like the fact that in ancient Chinese art the great painters always included a deliberate flaw in their work: human creation is never perfect." - Madeleine L'Engel

    What players bring is always an unknown and makes games as much a performance as any play or scripted and planned art.

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    That can never be truly accounted for. However, some generalizations can be made due to market research about your target audience. Or if you don't have that just some base assumptions - namely the age, gender, culture and interests of your players. They're probably similar to you.

    Writers and designers both get to play god, lowercase G. It's part of the appeal of any creative pursuit. You're putting something out into the world. But like God, capital G, you have little control over its ultimate outcome and acceptance. All of that is neither here nor there. Creation is fun, why else would we do it. I know some writers describe the process as bleeding on the page and it can be, nonetheless we do so because it fulfills something in us.

    That's why it can be hurtful to hear designers say games don't need stories. They don't need writing. They don't need us.

    It's dismissive of who we are and what we do. It erases the viability of our vocation. But it's not only designers who'll say that. I've meet actors who say the same thing. What they don't understand and may be the ultimate purpose of this series, is that everything is storytelling.

    Every element in a game is deliberate and contributes to the story being told

    Where procedurally or randomly generated content, or system-driven games and even sports have us telling stories, those tales are limited. They're limited by the structures available, so the growth experienced by the game's characters with in it are nominal at best. The same is true for sports. Take a single game out of a season or even a players career and it means nothing. It's only in the context of the wider world that we ascribe a narrative to it. Sports with a lot of games like basketball or baseball make this doubly-so as a particular series may have more weight than a singular game.

    But each and every time when we talk about our favorite teams we're talking about them in a gestalt manner. Any rivalry we mention between teams or players is not necessarily manufactured but it's emphasized by us the public as we talk about that sport. We take into the history not just of our particular team, but the players and coaches on it and their relationships with other teams. It's why we can tell a story of two rivals playing against one another and how the outcome "will make history".

    Of course anyone who isn't a fan of that sport or either of those teams will simply not care. That game, that showdown will just be another match played out by two professionals. That lack of interest is how the world approaches any game without a story. It's not contributing to the wider sagas we share and get passed down through generations.

    Hell even games with stories aren't necessarily going to live on. The tale of some plumber rescuing a princess from some weird turtle creature isn't exactly endearing nor does it offer much in the way of lessons, beyond get good directions before you set out on any quest. Video games as a medium haven't entered any stories in the wider canon of world culture because of how little they and most of their creators value stories. And it's a young medium comparatively. But it may also be one that never contributes in the same way given the nature of how it works.

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