No depth, no fun

Okay, of course, the relationship between a game having any kind of depth or not and wether it affects how fun it is, is pretty much debatable, but depth, specially in stroytelling can be very important, arguably one of the most important parts of a game.

Wether the story told in a video game is important or not is very dependant on the type of game we are talking about. For RPG´s for instance, story is essential, but maybe for an action shooter we can skip the story for the most part and still have a blast playing it.

Today, I want to talk about the importance of storytelling, and not just any storytelling, I want to talk about Environmental Storytelling.

Recently I read some parts of a book named “100 Principles of Game Design” and I realized that “Environmental Storytelling” is one of the aspects that we as gamers sometimes don´t really care that much, or take it for granted. Sometimes it is there, we expireance it, we enjoy it, but don´t ever realize we are even affected by it.

It refers to using the environment or the setting to tell parts or details of a story without having the player read great amounts of information and basically communicate parts of the story through indirect sources, not necessarly visually though. The book gives an example of using an NPC as a medium (no pun intended) to communicate this ideas. We can have this NPC maybe mumble something he is not happy with, telling the player something about the world he is exploring.

Great examples of this environmental storytelling are games like The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, that has over 300 “Lore Books” to read which their sole purpose is to give the player more information about the world.

It is not a coincidence when players all around the world praise this games, it isn’t because they have dragons or guns or zombies. The reason this games stay in our hearts is because the devlopers gave us a world to dive in, to explore, to fall in love with, not just any jump here, slash there, generic game.

Environmental Storytelling is a very powerfull tool, and I´m happy that there are developers out there that take this as a very important part of the game design process.

I would be very pleased to see more of this level of effort in game developing, how about you?