We’ve talked about video game endings multiple times on this site, but I just had to bring the issue back up after reading an excellent article about today by Christian Higley over at Digital Hippo about How Video Games Fail to End.
In it, Higley explores the idea that many games fail at a very basic level of storytelling: narrative structure. While stories typically have a first, second and final act, most games end the game right after the second act, before the real conclusion can actually set in. Red Dead Redemption is one of the few games I can think of that actually gives gamers a third act (and does it to great effect), in that Marston is allowed to return home, and the player spends time winding the story down before its sad but powerful conclusion.
While that’s not a new argument, the writer goes a step further by pointing out that most games are even missing the first act, choosing instead to thrust players right into the second act. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how true it is: games typically begin at the “inciting incident”. It’s the equivalent of starting A New Hope at the very moment Luke’s aunt and uncle are killed. Or in many cases, even after that.
It’s interesting to think about the concept of narrative structure in games, and how few of them actually even give this any thought. It’s no wonder that so many stories feel disjointed, out of place or lacking any kind of long-term resonance. Most games simply don’t go anywhere.
I think part of this is due to the sad but true business of games in general. How many titles end with blatant sequel set ups, and replace real resolution with the next big hook? It’s becoming an increasing problem, and more game creators need to take notice from the film industry to see how to successfully tie off one narrative thread while still leaving room for another.
So what do you guys think about this? Do games fail at narrative structure? What do you think the cause of this is? Go!
Source – Digital Hippos