Today I realized my problem with games


Lately I’ve wondered why I have zero interest in games like Mass Effect: Andromeda. I still struggle to complete Fallout 4. I played the Dragon Age: Inquisition single player for about an hour before I gave up.

The problem is that I just don’t care about story, character development, anything like that.

About 30 years ago, all I played were Sierra adventure games. I played each of them multiple times. I had a lot of fun with it. I used to enjoy Wizardry and Might & Magic.

Now I just want to shoot/beat up my enemy then move on to the next. I play platformers, shooters, fighters and MOBAs. Most types of adventure or RPG completely turns me off.

I bring this up because I have been watching closed beta footage of PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS. I’m interested in trying this. I bought H1Z1 the day it launched on Steam, before Battle Royale was added. At the time I thought it was silly and I despised that the game was moving away from what it was originally.

Now I wonder if I have been missing my true calling.


I know what you mean. I really don’t care about story. I like to collect things and build strong characters. That is why I liked Destiny so much. I think thats why I enjoy Bloodborne, Ark, Nioh, Overwatch. No story just playing.


My feelings as well. I have no problem dumping 50+ hours into a single season of Overwatch ranked play but I just don’t want to spend that much time dragging thru a story, no matter how great the writing.

I think it’s weird that as a kid I loved the story of every game I played but now I just want action.


maybe it could be that we had more time when we were younger to care about these sort of things?


Thats a really good point. I love the shorts that Blizzard puts out, but 7 hours of cut scenes feels like a waste of time.


I don’t like playing long story RPG’s because they think it needs drama, politics, and hundreds of hours of standing in front of NPC’s having awkward conversations that are really just information dumps. I love The Elder Scrolls, but the storytelling and questing systems they use have always made me lose interest before I could fully appreciate the world.

I love story and lore, just not quests (sidequests especially). I think that’s why I like Dark Souls and Bloodborne so much. Personally, I’m not a melee type of player (which these games are bias towards) and I don’t like difficulty for difficulty’s sake. What I do love is that it’s a world that exists and you are going through it.

I spent a long time trying to figure out why I enjoyed Everquest more than so many games after it that were clearly better. It’s because I knew I was supposed to level but I didn’t know the the main way to do that was to find quests, do them, then rinse/repeat. I ran around and found stuff rather than being ordered to go do things from a random NPC with a huge ! above there head. You could do this but I didn’t know you could, so while everyone seemed to be leveling faster than I was, I think I was having more fun exploring and dying without a map. To me, there was story and people in the world but I wasn’t being herded through areas with fetch/kill/escort/push quests.

Borderlands 2 still had all the same quests/sidequests but I didn’t hate it as much, I’m sure there’s a reason I just haven’t really thought about it yet. @Auth help me out, why do I like Borderlands questing over something like Dragon Age Inquisition?


Two words: meat bicycle.

But in all seriousness, I think the storytelling in that game was done well without being excessively-expository, the gameplay was engaging, the NPC’s were fun and memorable, the world in general kicked ass, and you could do a lot of neat shit with any of the characters in terms of builds (cough). Also, drop-in/drop-out multiplayer is great when done right, and I felt like it was well-implemented in BL2.


I have a similar gaming timeline, having played the first four Wizardry games on the Apple II platform, Sierra adventure games, etc. I don’t particularly care about game story these days either, which shocks me that I am saying that, but on reflection it might be due to the way that story presentation detracts from core gameplay.

In the case of the good early graphical adventure game, the core gameplay/mechanic WAS the control of a branching story presentation. There’s a tight feedback loop between your core gameplay elements (the point-and-click interface, movement) and what unfolds on the screen (story) to build the experience developing in your head (which is where the game experience lives). In non adventure games, you have more of a eye-hand coordination mechanic as the core game experience, and story provides supporting context so you understand that those fuzzy blobs of pixels are spaceships, tanks, princesses, etc.

I think that computer games (or interactive media in the broader sense) have a tremendous capacity for new forms of storytelling as literature, but this is a different form of storytelling than the kind that is needed for an eye-hand coordination game, where the focus is more on the enjoyment of meeting and overcoming the challenge. That’s not to say that story isn’t important, but it doesn’t have to provide more context than, “I’m the assassin! I sneak behind people and snuff 'em out!” or “I’m an F-14 pilot shooting down Russian jets” to anchor the experience. Good mechanics and a good-enough story (or maybe “plot” is a better term) will still allow a story to develop in one’s head.

However, that isn’t where a lot of game storytelling goes. There’s the aspiring filmmaker/writer version of storytelling that tends to be an injection of exposition, and oftentimes it gets in the way of the enjoyment of the core gameplay experience. If I’m playing a game about being a sniper, I want to be sniping. The story elements that matter to me are (1) how do I snipe better (2) what challenges will I face as a sniper and (3) what are the secondary actions I can take that support my sniping. Any story elements that support those key experiences will immerse me in the game IF AND ONLY IF there is an actual gameplay mechanic supported by each element. Otherwise, it is extraneous. If the control mechanics are also stupidly outside the core mechanics that let me snip and feel sniperness, then it’s an unpleasant distraction. The non-skippable cut scene, the impossibly-long JRPG text exposition, stuff like that drives me up the wall.

That’s not to say that story in games is bad, but I dislike the use of story as filler to extend a tired game mechanic, or as a separate experience that is not presented in context to the action, or uses a mechanic that really isn’t interactive or immersive. Stories can unfold by stumbling upon interesting sets in a 3D environment, or be told through snippets of story delivered just-in-time. The story I am talking about is the one that helps you understand the game environment, its rules, and your relation to it. If it can deliver interesting characters and plot, that’s a nice bonus.


Going back to the Sierra adventures, Maniac Mansion, Day of the Tentacle, etc, those games weren’t hard. There was little to no skill involved. The fun was discovering the correct verb to perform on a noun when typing. Once Sierra moved to point-and-click the gameplay was scanning the screen to find which objects could be manipulated and then discovering how to manipulate it.

Now when you play a current Bethesda/Bioware game, the player is presented with a set of options or responses. You cannot deviate from that.

Maybe I don’t enjoy story anymore because the story is handed to me. I don’t have to seek it by typing the correct phrase or finding the object to manipulate. I simply have to exhaust all the dialog options and move to the next NPC.

But I guess something has to give when you begin melding the action with the adventure.


I have a tougher time staying attached to a game that doesn’t have a good story. Once I either finish the main questline or lose interest in the narrative games become dull quickly. Overwatch and Diablo style games are fun in bursts, but usually can’t hold my attention for very long.


I’m the opposite. It’s all about the story for me.


Yah, this is what I was trying to get at: the story presentation these days is a sad branching choice option that selects cut scenes to play. It’s a completely different experience than actually playing the game. “modal select the dialog” is a different interactive experience from “explore the virtual world” in a modern game.


I agree with Daveseah, thse days gaming has become more of feeling the virtual reality.


haha, holy crap, I just watched that meat bicycle video for the first time, “I powdered my cockatiel for the ripcage slaughter…” freakin quality

edit: oh, and my final word on the subject is this: most games attempt to create a story and mechanics independently and that seems to be why they fall flat on both. Usually the mechanics take off and get super complicated before the story can support it, I think that’s why I tend to lean towards mechanics for my immersion and ignore poorly constructed, disjunct storytelling