"Don't be a dick." That simple notion is the first of Victor Lucas' 3D rules. The others? Don't dick around and don't hang out with dicks. Some would lead you to believe the games press is filled with dicks. It's not. With this in mind, I seek out the best games writing - from news to interviews to reviews and beyond - and highlight it here.
Because how many games take place in outer space or in a Not So Far Away Dystopian Future? Pretty much all of them.
Streamline Studios Product Development Director Stefan Baier remarks:
Don’t get me wrong, I love traditional sci-fi, but in our modern world – a world of relationships empowered by iPads and social networks – technology is no longer all that mysterious in mainstream culture. It’s a brighter place, and there is still a lot of green… at least hopefully so.
Then there’s Bitmob’s Rus McLaughlin who is tired of the hulking, white Space Marine:
See, Mr. Space Marine isn’t just a walking, shooting cliché…he also severely limits width and breadth of the story you’re allowed to tell. The second you step into those space-army boots, you’ll spend the next 6-8 hours shooting ugly aliens and/or rival space marines from Planet Enemy, guided by a disembodied voice on a mission of critical importance (despite only meriting a detached squad of four soldiers), moving from skirmish to skirmish while a major engagement plays out in the middle-distance. Possibly you’ll start feeling betrayed by high command’s big picture vs. realities on the ground, or a few surprise betrayals will blindside you, but then you’ll go shoot them.
Baier, Stefan. “To Sci or not to Sci” (May 3, 2012) <http://www.streamline-studios.com/wordpress1/2012/05/03/to-sci-or-not-to-sci/>.
McLaughlin, Rus. “Retire the space marine” (Bitmob: May 8, 2012) <http://bitmob.com/articles/retire-the-space-marine>.
A couple of interesting discussions on stories in games came to my attention so I figured I’d highlight them together.
In the first, Bitmob community writer Matt Perez discusses a connection between difficulty and story. He never fully realizes his argument, but he does touch on some sensitive points:
In this sense, video games are perfect for expressing an involving story. The player isn’t supposed to empathize with the protagonist like other mediums; they should be the main character as if everything is happening directly to them. It’s not good enough to simply tell the player that the main character takes huge risks. In a video game, the player needs to undertake the task themselves and experience the risks firsthand.
In the second, Kat Bailey (starting a new column on Joystiq) argues that JRPGs don’t need an enthralling narrative. She makes particular note of the genres origins as a storytelling genre, before dropping this fascinating tidbit:
The dirty secret is that I’ve always been more fascinated by RPG battle systems than the story within the game. In many ways, a character’s mechanical growth is a story in and of itself. When the game begins, your character is a scrub with a wooden sword and a few potions. By the end, they can call down comets from the heavens and instigate supernovas. That’s what I call a character arc.
There’s no right answer to either topic. Where do you stand on these points?
Perez, Matt. “Why difficulty and narrative go hand in hand” (Bitmob: February 15, 2012) <http://bitmob.com/articles/why-difficulty-and-narrative-go-hand-in-hand>.
Bailey, Kat. “Do Japanese RPGs need a good story?” (Joystiq: February 15, 2012) <http://www.joystiq.com/2012/02/15/do-japanese-rpgs-need-a-good-story/>.