Why Games Now Rival (and even exceed) Films in Terms of StorytellingAug 25, 2019 | 1 Votes by Mikhail 10 rate Video games today now rival films in terms of storytelling. Though this sounds far fetched at first, several games have proved that this is the case today.
Films have always been a fantastic way of telling stories and conveying ideas. When the first movies came out, numerous directors and filmmakers started crafting various tales that tickled the imagination of many. Films that come to mind are La Voyage dans la Lune (Voyage to the Moon) and 18-second film The Execution of Mary Stuart . Nowadays, we’re treated to hours-long feature films with near-realistic special effects that make us feel as if we’re at an arm’s length away from the actors.
With film’s achievements in the past century in mind, would it be safe to say that games are now in their league in storytelling and in social commentary? Well, we can safely say that today’s games are heading in the right direction and at times, even exceed what films bring to the screen. Here’s how and why:
The social stigma that persists
First, let’s take a look at the main reason why this is a little hard to accept.
If you say that video games are somehow in the league of films in terms of storytelling and other aspects, you’d probably get funny looks. Thing is, we can’t blame them for that. Games are a relatively young medium, and a lot of people are woefully ignorant or have been constantly exposed to its rather negative aspects. For example, backward and unjustified claims that video games (notably the GTA and Call of Duty franchises) cause gun violence persists. In addition, many think of gamers as irresponsible souls ignoring their priorities. When they think of games, the first things that come to mind are violence and gore in first-person shooters.
Unfortunately, games still possess a social stigma. Granted, a lot of them are truly violent (which is why they’re rated M or 18+), but so are a lot of movies, TV shows, and even certain books. Many people complain about their loved ones spending hours playing games while they themselves obsess over celebrities and binge-watch TV shows. In any case, the stigma is unfounded and totally unfair.
It will take a while for things to change. Thankfully, the game industry is constantly growing and evolving in a lot of ways. The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is in sight and soon, we might reach the endpoint.
Games tell fantastic stories set in well-crafted worlds
Social stigma aside, a lot of games tell amazing stories. One of the first games that comes to mind is The Last of Us, which is highly-touted as one of the best titles of all time. Although it may first appear as your typical zombie game, it delivers in giving a tale of survival and an unlikely father-daughter relationship between Joel and Ellie. In addition, the world design is nothing short of fantastic: you’ll move around a ruined world with decrepit and overgrown buildings inhabited by “clickers” or by humans with malicious intent.
Other games let their worlds do it for them. One recent example is Assassin’s Creed Odyssey which is set in Ancient Greece. You’re able to explore the streets of ancient Athens and Sparta while doubling as an assassin/warrior. Meanwhile, others rely on interactivity and providing a living, breathing world. Rockstar Games perfected this with Red Dead Redemption and of course, the GTA franchise.
Relationships with characters, acting, and voicework
Apart from Joel and Ellie, other games give you characters that make it feel as if you’re the actual protagonist trying to forge relationships with them. Prime examples are JRPG franchises like Persona and The Legend of Heroes: Trails series.
This is further emphasized in the recently-released Fire Emblem: Three Houses. You’ll basically take the role of a professor while forging relationships with your students and other faculty members while fighting tactical turn-based battles. You’ll supervise their growth while watching them talk with each other, letting you know their backstories and the dynamics of their relationships.
There’s a huge reason why games today are full of intriguing characters and interesting relationships. Apart from the writing, you can credit this to the game’s actors and directors. There are even some TV show and movie actors making their way to games. Good examples include Mads Mikkelsen and Norman Reedus, who will be in Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding, Kiefer Sutherland in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, and Bryan Dechart and Jesse Williams in Detroit: Become Human.
Apart from Hollywood actors, you’re also treated to voice actors in games who are also making a living in cartoons and anime. Voice acting and dubbing didn’t exactly have a stellar reputation in the past two decades. Today though, it has become a more refined craft with many actors delivering outstanding performances comparable to film. Just look at clips of Final Fantasy XV, Persona 5, and Marvel’s Spider-Man.
Political commentary in games
Apart from the stories, worlds, performances, and characters, games also rival films in terms of delivering a message. A recent example would be Detroit: Become Human, a game about androids becoming a reality and taking human roles.The game touches upon civil rights, racism, slavery, and the threat of technology while tacking problems like unemployment and substance abuse.
There are also games that try to uplift the feminist movement by putting strong lady characters into more prominent roles. The best lady protagonists that come to mind include Madeline in Celeste, Aloy in Horizon: Zero Dawn, Claire Redfield in Resident Evil 2, and Clementine in Telltale’s The Walking Dead. Some games are also exploring LGBT rights, mental health (like Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice), and environmental conservation.
Overall, we can safely say games now rival or even exceed films in terms of storytelling and in a few other aspects. There are many titles today that tell fantastic and intriguing tales, while giving us outstanding characters and immersive worlds. To top it all off, we’re also handed out stellar performances by actors and voice actors alike and social issues being used as a means to enhance stories and to send a message.