3 Ways Gaming Will Make You A Better Transmedia Storyteller

US and the Game IndustryThat’s right, playing games can now be classed as “research at work”… NICE.

In case you haven’t guessed (or read any of my other articles) I’m a big fan of gaming… any form of gaming.

This isn’t to say that I just sit down in front of the computer every night. I like to mix it up a little.

** WARNING: NERD ALERT**

To me, the very nature of gaming is about the emotional thrill.

I’m a frequent player of board games, table top war-games, mobile games, role-playing games, card games, dice games, console games, even text games.

Games are great… why? Because they are innovative.

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I recently watched a documentary called “US and the Game Industry”. It’s a feature length doc, focusing mainly on the Indie-game scene, and some of the rising stars in the US.

It’s a great documentary and can teach us storytellers a whole lot about the importance of games in interactive stories and our audiences…

1) Games Are Way Ahead of The Curve

The documentary does a really good job of demonstrating just how important ‘the quiet game designers’ are in creating innovative commercial games.

I’ve always had respect for anyone creative enough to design a game, and it’s one of the main reasons that all of my Transmedia work either centres around, or directly includes game based elements.

This quote from Douglas Wilson, Producer and Designer at DIE GUTE FABRIK, completely mirrors my belief in gameplay:

“We don’t necessarily need to look to the computer itself to mediate gameplay, in fact it’s often very enjoyable for the players to use and re-appropriate digital technology to their own ends and to bring something to the table as well.”

This may not be directly addressing Transmedia, but it is certainly associated with the need for immersive and innovative experiences.

2) The Illusion of Interactivity

Another fascinating point I picked up on came from Jenova Chen, CEO of Thatgamecompany, whose game “Journey” is widely regarded as one of the most original and artistic games ever to be released, he states:

“Interactive Design is a very new field, nobody really knows what the rules are… Interactive designs are about choices, they are the illusion that you are in control of the situation, we give you this illusion by giving you choices, which are usually very simple like “go left?” or ‘go right?” but that choice will engage people who interact with your project.”

In Transmedia terms, the illusion of control is lifted if the Storyworld isn’t designed correctly. Sure, the audience has some control in user-generated content, but ultimately the story they are experiencing is the one you’re telling.

And if, for a second, they feel like they are being forced down the rabbit hole, BOOM they’re out! They need to explore the world and feel like they have discovered something unique.

3) It’s Not all Glitz and Glamour

Often it’s the simplest idea that can resonate with an audience, yes GTA V looks amazing and feels amazing and people sink a lot of time into playing it… but Rockstar had over $100 million to throw at it! It has to look amazing.

This quote by Alexander Bruce, creator of Antichamber, really stood out to me.

“I’m a big fan of games that teach their audience something, when I play a game like Braid or Portal I walk away with an appreciation for thinking obscurely about space or quantum mechanics.”

I’ve played GTA V a lot this past year, and I still don’t know how to hotwire a car…

But how often have you seen a simple App game come along and break records? How many of you hated geometry… until you played Angry Birds?

Angry Birds changed something for me. It sparked enjoyment in something I didn’t enjoy before, and it should ideally be the same for ANY Transmedia story. Like a book that inspires you to listen to a new composer or check out an old film.

Don’t get hung up on the way it looks or feels, make sure you’re giving the audience something deep, something that (at the very least) will change their lives forever.

Game Over… Respawn?

US and the Game Industry, is a cracking example of how to take a very personal idea or story and turn it into an engaging, innovative experience. I highly recommend checking it out… even if you just class it as research at work.

You can find out more about the film here.

Lee Robinson
About the author

23yr old film nerd, comic book and video game geek and all round Transmedia Fanatic…Oh, and I also have a 1st degree in Media, Writing and Production. More here...
2 Responses
  1. Jonathan Kramer

    Glad you brought up this topic. Unlike you, I’ve never delved into video games which I realize are the foundation for interactive storytelling. The problem I have with most of them, Portal included, is that the user is often shooting at something which over time gets boring to me. I don’t own a Playstation or XBox though I have Steam installed on my PC. I AM indeed desirous of learning whatever I can in order to create an innovative approach to transmedia storytelling. What games can you suggest where shooting isn’t the primary action?

  2. Krish

    Sorry for the delay in replying to this – we had some technical issues with the blog which meant I didn’t see your comment till just now… Journey, Cibele, Stanley Parable, Monument Valley are all good examples – though there are many more…

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