A Brief Note on Narratives

Is there anything more powerful than a meta-narrative?  To quote Oscar Wilde, "no."  By meta-narrative, of course, I mean the big story that we all tell to explain our place in the universe - usually making sure to cast ourselves as the good guys, and people who use the other brand of smart phone as the bad guys. We need narratives to make sense of the world around us - it's why so much of the Bible is written in narrative. But that's not important right now. What is important is that a lot of video game developers seem to be REALLY bad at narrative lately. They don't know how to keep the stakes high and increasing, to illicit sympathy for characters, to keep the pacing brisk, or to keep players' brains from spilling onto the carpet in a puddle of boredom.

Imagine if modern game developers had written the script to the first Star Wars movie ("Episode 4: The One With the Sand People"), instead of George Lucas's ghostwriters. Instead of an exciting laser battle in space and a mysterious girl putting a mysterious device into R2-D2, this is how the first two hours of the movie would have gone:

 Similarly, the first two hours of Raiders of the Lost Ark would involve Indy doing fetch quests for the unversity staff.

Similarly, the first two hours of Raiders of the Lost Ark would involve Indy doing fetch quests for the unversity staff.

Or even worse, imagine if they had written the King James Version of the Book of Exodus!

 Moses, like most Egyptian royalty, dresses out of the Sunday School resource room.

Moses, like most Egyptian royalty, dresses out of the Sunday School resource room.

 "To move forward, press forward.  To move left, press left.  To move right, press right.  To breathe, pull air in with your diaphragm, and then push it out again.  Do you understand what I just said?"

"To move forward, press forward.  To move left, press left.  To move right, press right.  To breathe, pull air in with your diaphragm, and then push it out again.  Do you understand what I just said?"

 Geez, Moses, don't you realize how important it is to establish that this little tutorial guy is a full, well-rounded character with a personality?  What could possibly be more important?

Geez, Moses, don't you realize how important it is to establish that this little tutorial guy is a full, well-rounded character with a personality?  What could possibly be more important?

Come to think of it, maybe they DID have a hand writing the Book of Chronicles...