Play me a story

Next month, I’ll be speaking at the Library of Congress on the topic of storytelling through game. I’m a relative newcomer to game, but that doesn’t prevent me from having a great many opinions–as can be seen in this interview and this post. And of all the laundry list of potential topics I offered them when we were discussing programming, this was  the one they chose.

I suspect I’m a fitting ambassador to the literary crowd when it comes to game: I’m one of their own, and we understand one another. And I’m able to talk about game, particularly as it relates to storytelling, in ways that make sense to non-gamers: especially non-gamers of the literary variety.

One of the things I’d like to do for this very literary crowd I’ll be addressing is to offer them a list of games that do an effective job of telling stories. I’ve got a little list of my own, but I’d like to get more game-wise minds to contribute as well. So here is the question, and I hope you’ll address it in the comments wherever this post comes into your feed:

What games do the best job of telling a story? I’m particularly looking for games that do one or more of:

(a) give the player a rich experience of an existence not their own, the way we can in a well-written novel

(b) make the player truly engage with the problem set

(c) make the player explore serious questions, whether they are questions of morality and ethics or other topics that truly engage the mind and heart

(d) give the player a story experience s/he would never have in a novel

Game doesn’t get the respect it deserves as a storytelling medium. This is an opportunity to help shift the thinking of some fairly influential minds. If you could get a literary snob to play just one game, what would you offer them as a gateway drug? Add your suggestions in the comments–or, if you’re having a fit of shyness, email me.

And if you happen to be within range of the Library of Congress, I’ll be there on April 12th, appearing at their “What If?” speakers series. I think the presentation is at noon, but I’ll be there most of the day. Stop in and say hi.

Explore posts in the same categories: events, games, interstitial art

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2 Comments on “Play me a story”

  1. Geoffrey Says:

    Off the top of my head, you might want to look at Breaking the Ice, the Mountain Witch, Grey Ranks, Don’t Rest Your Head, the Burning Wheel, Sorcerer, the Last Supper, Court of the Empress, Dogs in the Vineyard, the Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen, kill puppies for satan, Lady Blackbird, Little Fears, My Life with Master, Puppetland, and the Shab-al-Hiri Roach.

    To get a sense of why those are important steps in games, you’ll need to get up to date on gaming theory from the Forge, then move back to the advances made by White Wolf Games, its precursors, and eventually, back to the basics of roleplaying.

    It’s about a forty-year history from start to finish, but well worth catching up on.


  2. Thanks for all these suggestions! A number of unique contributions to my growing list. This is a fascinating area of the storytelling art; it’s fun to do so much learning.


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