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Blog: "Story: What is it really about?"
Thomas Offline
Frictional Games

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Blog: "Story: What is it really about?"

Some discussion around how story is not a plot and how this relate to videogames.

10-11-2010, 09:07 AM
superluser Offline

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RE: Blog: "Story: What is it really about?"

Thomas Wrote:Pretty much all stories we have heard in our lives have been plot-based, but this is because this has been pretty much the only way of telling them.

Continuing my previously assumed role as Mephisto to the blog posts, I have to say that many stories that we have read in recent times are not very plot-based. Finnegans Wake is probably the most obvious example, but there are many stories where the actual plot elements are fairly incidental. Part II of Goethe's Faust is apropos, which is why I mentioned Mephistopheles. Add to this list the likes of Don Quixote (the first modern novel) and pretty much all of Thomas Pynchon's oeuvre. Then we have films, like Slacker or Koyaanisqatsi, where there is no overarching plot.

But even for stories that are strongly-plotted, there are many, many examples where plot clearly takes a back seat to theme. Kurt Vonnegut's book Breakfast of Champions and Steven Soderbergh's film Schizopolis both are very simple (though not exactly typical) plots, without a lot of digressions. You'd have a hard time convincing anyone that they're about the plot, though.

That said, many novels and films forget that the point that they're trying to convey is an emotional or thematic one. I've seen far many directors whose primary goal seems to be getting the characters to the final scene, or authors whose goal is to tidy up any loose ends that the reader stopped caring about an hour ago. (Surprisingly enough, this doesn't seem to have a TVTropes page)

It is very good (though expected) to see Frictional looking at this issue, as it is severely lacking in plot-based video games. These types of stories do exist, and we've read many of them. It's just that they're very rare in games, and we do need to be reminded about how to make them.
10-11-2010, 03:32 PM

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