Over at Develop Online is a very interesting video discussing game narrative. It’s good to see a wide range of people involved, including my friends Rhianna Pratchett and Charles Cecil.
However, the thing that bugs me about this isn’t what any of the developers and writers are saying but one of the questions posed at the end of the piece: “Do video games really need scripts or voice-overs to tell an effective tale?”
What bugs me is the use of the word “really” because it puts a strange emphasis on the question so that when you answer “no” (which, of course, it’s impossible not to do) there’s an implication that, therefore, all games don’t need scripts or voice-overs. Which, in my view, is wrong.
The question that really should have been asked is, “Can video games tell effective tales without the use of scripts or voice-overs?” The answer being a resounding “Yes”. But this doesn’t mean that games that use scripts or voice-overs are not equally effective.
Scripts and voice-overs are tools at the disposal of any developer and no one should feel guilty at their use. No other media industry shares the sheer scale of style of presentation as the games industry and we shouldn’t do anything that makes us think in a restrictive way and might threaten to narrow down that variety.