You might think that video games are just to alleviate boredom, but if you thought that way, you would be wrong. In the last ten years, video games have become a whole new medium in interactive storytelling, not to be undervalued by the creative person. Whether you are a novelist, screenwriter, artist, filmmaker, or photographer, if storytelling falls within your realm of expertise, it is high time you sat down a played one of these excellent story-driven games. There is always something new to be learned from other mediums of storytelling.
10. The Average Everyday Adventures of Samantha Browne
This point-and-click interactive story about a painfully introverted university student, struggling to overcome her anxiety of cooking in the communal kitchens, is one of the cutest and most relatable games you will ever play. Creative people often struggle with anxiety and other panic disorders, and this game portrays an authentic depiction of how that anxiety can spiral, and the best decisions we can make to assuage that panic.
9. The Deadspace Trilogy
I recommend these games highly for anyone who wants to write in any horror genre, but I would even go so far as to propose that this game is a must for any aspiring screenwriters. The Deadspace games nail pacing on the head, never leaving the player with a dull moment, a constantly ramping up the tension between action sequences and cut scenes, unravelling its morose story while still keeping you engaged.
Stressed? Overwhelmed? You need to own Flower. Now. A release from That Game Company, Flower is a soothing, atmospheric game for the Playstation 3 in which play as a small flower petal, in a massive field. Sounds a little bizarre? Don’t knock it yet. By tilting your controller and putting pressure on the joystick, you can move your petal around, collecting other petals as you’re carried along by the breeze, and collectively discover that you have the power to bring life back to this dulled landscape. Flower is an excellent example of how to create story without dialogue, and to generate not only a sense of epic scale, but inspire a sense that we have the power to change our world for the better.
7. Bioshock Infinite
Writers should take note of this game especially. Set in an alternate universe, in which the South secedes the Union, and becomes it owns fictional floating city above America, not only is this game lush with astounding visuals, and riveting gameplay, but Bioshock Infinite thrives on its story. If you’re currently struggling with stories that deal with multiple timelines, a huge cast of characters, or fantastical worlds, there is no better place to research - and you’ll have a huge amount of fun while you’re at it.
6. Tales From the Borderlands
This point-and-click adventure is rife with humor, action, and personable characters. If you’re looking to build a character-driven story that balances fun, tragedy, and a face pace, than take a page out of the books of the writers from Telltale Games - no one does character, narrative, or humor better.
5. The Last of Us
A fair warning; this game is not for the inexperienced player, but if you’re in anyway half-decent at first-person-shooters, than I would recommend this game to you based on the story alone. Set in a world twenty-years after a funghal virus wipes out mankind and turns them into a mass of living dead, this game will wrench your heart out and have you tearing up within the first ten minutes. Fans of The Walking Dead are especially advised; no genre does ensemble casts and character-driven plot quite like the zombie genre.
4. A Wolf Among Us
From the minds of Telltale Games, this hard-crime thriller based off the Fables comics by Bill Willingham are easy to play, easy to get into, and a thrilling take on a world of fairy-tale characters, set in a gritty New York. When a decapitated head ends up on the foot of these fairy tale character’s doorstep, Bigby Wolf - none other than the Big Bad himself - is set on the trail to find their community’s would-be murderer.
This game might not look like much, but don’t judge this book by its cover. It may only be an RPG with low, pixelated graphics, but this story packs a punch. Unlike most games, the story of Undertale changes depending on how you interact with “enemies” within the game, and how other characters treat you based on those decisions will impact the ending you get. Undertale is also lush with diverse and complex characters that are either lovable or intrinsically intriguing.
A star hit from That Gaming Company, Journey is a non-dialogue game in which you play as a nameless, genderless characters traversing across a mystical landscape, and through a deserted land that seems to have once belong to your ancestors. It is a perfect example of story using The Hero’s Journey, and all without a single word of dialogue spoken. More than this, the soundtrack for this game is atmospheric, charged, and just plain beautiful. Play this game for no other reason than because it is one of the most relaxing experiences you will ever have.
1. The Beginner’s Guide
If you are a creative person, you must play this game. Not because of the excellent use of story. Or the spot-on depiction of characters. This game is an existential crisis for the working creative. Made by Davey Wreden, creator of the bestselling Stanley Parable game, The Beginner’s Guide is an interactive story in which Davey himself is narrating, while taking you, the user, through a series of games that his good friend, Coda, programmed before he quit making games. By showing you these games, Davey hopes to inspire Coda to make games again, and show the user what sort of a person Coda was, but what is related over the course of this game is a heart-wrenching narrative about how two friends fell apart, and how the creative process isn’t always fun and rewarding; and can in fact spiral us into a self-consuming depression.
Whether you’re new to video games, or an avid player, I would suggest you take up gaming at some point in your career to at the very least get a perspective on narrative, if not simply to relieve yourself from the doldrums of everyday life. You never know what lessons you’ll uncover on the way.