Storytelling in Video Games

I used to be quite the game geek. I bought PSO magazine, was active on about a dozen forums, always got the Limited Edition prints of games and had a healthy respect for retro gaming. This all kindof died off when I got to Uni and didn’t take a console with me.

Storytelling in games, for me, has always mostly followed the same vein – something has happened; this needs correcting. Bad guy has stolen magic crystals; we need to get them back. Find the treasure. Etc.

However, for me, there are a few games where the storytelling is as good as or even better than the gameplay.

The Final Fantasy series is the pinnacle of storytelling in video games, IMO. I remember failing horribly to level up enough the first time I played FFVII because I was more interested in the story than getting different abilities for my characters. When FFX came out in 2002, I was fifteen years old and got completely sucked into the world. The HD remaster of this game has just been released and it’s as good as it ever was.

Of course it’s the point of an RPG to have a decent plot, but what about a first-person shooter?

The original Tomb Raider series needs a mention here because although Lara is a fairly flat character to begin with, her story expands in a satisfying way through the series. Halo is also a great story, though I can take or leave the gameplay.

So here are my top ten Stories Within Games:

1. Final Fantasy X / X2
2. Final Fantasy VII
3. The original Tomb Raider series.
4. The Assassins’ Creed series
5. Devil May Cry
6. The original Silent Hill
7. Resident Evil
8. Gears of War
9. The Halo series
10. Pokemon Yellow (in a ‘choose your own adventure’ way!)

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Submit Anything?

All submissions welcome!

We accept literary fiction and genred submissions!

Please feel free to submit any genre of work!

…As long as it’s not High / Epic Fantasy, Science Fiction or Horror, right?

I’ve submitted five items to various places recently and had one acceptance (with a rate of 20% acceptance I am going to count myself extremely fortunate). However, what is interesting is that the piece that was accepted was for a genred anthology (science fiction / dystopian) whereas the other four were of the ‘we accept anything’ variety. Surely not enough to cause suspicion.

Well. Enter a few fellow writers of genred fiction. Over tea and buns we discussed submissions and publication and an interesting theme arose: If the journal or magazine they were submitting to was genred, they seemed to have a much higher acceptance rate than the ‘we accept anything’ magazines. How queer. Surely if they accept anything, the acceptance rate should be more or less the same?

The answer probably lies in readership. Readers looking for epic fantasy or science fiction are going to buy Lightspeed magazine. If they’re not, they won’t. I understand that journals and magazines have to cater to an audience or they won’t survive for long. My issue is with how submissions are requested. Surely if all genres are welcome, all should be considered equally? The journals (online and print) I read that ‘accept all genres’ hardly ever seem to feature horror, fantasy or sci-fi.

Does this mean that fantasy writing is seen as less important that literary fiction (which accounts for around 5% of the reading market)? Or is it genuinely difficult to find it well written enough to feature? What are everyone’s thoughts on this?