by: Calvin Patimeteeporn
Concerning the debate between whether either storyline or gameplay is of higher priority, I have been primarily set on gameplay first, storyline second most of my life. With my experience with early games, storyline seemed pretty useless. However, these games were usually those where storyline would probably be a liability or completely unneeded.
“Oh no! If we don’t make these blocks line up the whole world will explode!”
This progressed through childhood. When I picked up the Pokemon games, I would completely fly past any text and mash the “A” button to breeze by any dialogue. All I cared about was leveling up and beating the Elite Four, winning over the evils of Team Rocket seemed completely irrelevant and boring.
But one game decided to help me see the other side of gaming, the storyline. This game was, of course, Knights of the Old Republic. While I was already a huge Star Wars fan, I was still intent on hacking and slashing through sith and evil droids with my lightsaber . However, when I sat down to actually play it, I was captivated by the narrative and story-based gameplay. Each event and how people interact with your character was completely based upon the choices made by the character, or realistically, me. This was a drastic change of mindset from Dr. Mario where shoving pills down people’s throats required no thought (though it really should have).
Looking back, I realize now that the combat and interface system of the game were a little choppy and not as great as they could be, but I never really cared about it because I was captured by the storyline like the Millennium Falcon was trapped by the Death Star’s tractor beam. The game provided the characters with choices to determine the players alignment with the Force. Either help civilians and fight for justice, or succumb to anger and unleash fury upon the galaxy. This struck me as a great example of one of Wark’s passages where he states that “The gamer elects to choose sides only for the purpose of the game.” (Wark, 012). While, normally people don’t think about killing innocent civilians and idolizing corruption (or at least I hope they do not) they are able to choose a different persona and run freely in the gamespace. This is awesome (in short). So, of course I did this too:
“Bow to your new Sith Lord, Darth Vortrag Nefarious”
So thank you Star Wars, I’ve developed a whole new view on gameplay vs storyline. When a game, though the controls and interface may be sub-par, the storyline is completely 100% capable of making up for this liability. This also benefits by helping immerse the gamer into the virtual world, which, sadly, is still just a virtual world and that completely inaccurate Sith Lord version of myself (though very powerful) is still just a figment of imagination within a game. But if a game can make me draw myself as a Sith Lord, it is definitely worthy of my praise and admiration.
You will now have to excuse me, I have a Sith Empire to run.