Playing or Obeying

Playing or Obeying

Quick question: Which storytelling medium provides the more interactive storytelling, games or books?

I bet you chose "games". You are wrong. Try skipping ahead in a game. Now try skipping ahead in a book.

Both games and books can have multiple endings and branch points - but only the book makes it easy to control the actual storytelling. If, at some point in the story, the hero slays a million trolls, the book will let me skip through those chapters of troll massacre; the game will make me personally slay each and every one before I can move on.

I'm getting a little bit sick of these games that force me to do things that I really can't be bothered to do. I'd really like a "can't be arsed"-button in games. I'm sure that some gaming purist will have an aneurysm, tell me that I must strive, and ask what the point is to put out a $60 game if the player can skip ahead anyway. The short answers to these are that I'd rather strive for something real and that if your $60 game isn't any fun, at least don't try to take my time as well as my money.

The more thoughtful answer is that story-driven games have gone from things you play to things that you obey. Isn't the goal of playing to be entertained and have fun? If so, isn't it reasonable to assume that the player would know best how they should be entertained? While it is great to have a story in a game, with no way to experience the story in the way you find most pleasurable it doesn't really matter to you, the player, what the game is about - it is the master and you are the gimp.

2011-07-15, updated 2011-07-16