One of the underlying trends of modern game design (at least since I last reacquainted myself with the buzzwords) has been narrativism versus simulationism. Typically, these games have certain associations with them; narrativist games have a weak point of often falling into mechanical vacuums where characters never develop across sessions or where they fail to be distinct from each other, and simulationist games fall into a pitfall by becoming too heavily dependent on their own systems to allow flexibility and freedom, especially with regards to tabletop roleplaying. However, video games often offer a great example of a way in which all the traditional tabletop game design ideas have broken down over the years and ways to reinvigorate them.
One of the things that really makes a game succeed or fail is the quality of its narrative. A game that tells a good story will be entertaining. This is a little difficult, but there are a few things one can do when writing a game’s story and plot that will help players get attached to the characters and events that the game is centered around.
One of the things that we’ve seen recently is a wave of games that I like to call “dumb fun”, games which cater to the lowest common denominator and sell widely, like Call of Duty and really just about anything EA makes, barring The Sims and its ilk. However, I think as game designers it’s important to consider that while simplified and streamlined explosion presentation devices are certainly a pathway to commercial success, it is possible to receive just as much enjoyment from a game that requires a little more thought. Continue reading