For one of our classes, we were asked to think about why people played games, create a logical argument for it. We were to also mention how we thought the trend would effect how games were made, and the skillsets we have that would help us in making those games. Here is my take on the subject;
People want to live out a fantasy.
When I say ‘fantasy’, I’m referring to things that a person didn’t achieve or couldn’t do for one reason or another. Perhaps because it wasn’t possible in the first place, like being someone else and living their life.
I’m sure a lot of us have a daydream or a fantasy we would like to fulfill. Daydreams themselves are mostly ‘self-soothing’, they are meant to help us feel better about ourselves and our circumstances. Adding onto that is that people also spend essentially 50% of their time awake daydreaming.
With that in mind, where else other than in our thoughts could we be someone we’re not and do things that we want to but can’t?
In video games, especially because I think its interactivity makes it feel closer to the player.
For example, the player’s choices in a game like Skyrim or Mass Effect would be a result of their considerations and personal values towards the situation at hand, making the choice theirs.
It helps makes the experience more individualistic, like adventure itself was the player’s own.
This could still be extended to established characters, not only blank ones. After all, the player would still be controlling them, partially experiencing what those characters are going through and making it easier for them to step into their shoes.
Let’s take Metal Gear Solid 4 for instance, and here’s a video to better show what I’ll be trying to say:
Players have to button mash to get through this room; the player’s own frustration, their helplessness and perhaps even their tiredness, could help them understand what Snake could have been feeling at the time.
What all this boils down to is that interactivity creates a connection between the player and the game. This connection and the empathy it could incite was the reason why storytelling turned to interactivity in the first place.
So, here’s my logical argument;
Premise 1: People want to be a part of a fantasy.
Premise 2: Interactivity provides a connection for the player to the fantasy.
Conclusion: The interactivity of games easily allows people to be a part of a fantasy.
If this were a trend, I could see more developers, especially larger AAA ones adding in branching story paths in their games, since player choice is one of the main ways the player could influence the story.
Something a little less like Life is Strange, where the final choice was the only determinant on which significantly different ending was achieved, and a bit more like the Witcher 3, where the ending is a culmination of choices leading up to it.
In terms of skills I could apply in this, I’d include my English and writing skills which could help when summarizing the dialogues into choices to be placed within the UI. Mass Effect had a bit of trouble with this as some of the dialogue options ended up misleading in tone or meaning after being shortened. There’s a whole forum for that with an example below.
Also of note is my interest in single-player games. As daydreams and fantasies are very much about the person themselves, a single-player game could be more effective in making the player believe that they are within the game’s world.