- Playing: Destiny Beta (PS4)
- Watching: Ed
- Listening to: Wilco
Video games as an entertainment medium have a means of storytelling that is untouched. They allow us as players to be the hand that guides the story. In some cases, we become more than just a catalyst for progression. Games allow us to guide and change the narrative or in some cases even write the ending based on our actions. By placing the gamer in the shoes of a protagonist, we are treated to an interactive experience where we can connect with a story in ways that movies, film and books cannot. While this kind of experience can put an added level of immersion to storytelling, video games are giving us an entirely new way to experience crafted fiction.
This E3, one of the most exciting and intriguing games at the show was Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky. A game whose scope and reach are as vast as the galaxy represented therein. Uncharted worlds, space armadas, alien life, and the pursuit of the ever-expanding horizon are all themes of No Man’s Sky. But perhaps the most exciting prospect to this inter-galactic tale is that, at its heart, you are the author of the story.
Hello Games has gone on record as saying there is no guiding narrative that will propel the player forward, no hand reaching out to guide you the way, no voice in your ear to tell you why you are where you are and no heroic lead to provide exposition to the events that occur. That has me truly excited. By stripping away those elements of traditional narrative, No Man’s Sky truly embraces the prospect that you are but one person in a galaxy of stars and explorers, and opens the door to giving true meaning to your quest more so than any script could. Some critics or skeptics might think that by not providing a plot Hello Games may be taking direction out of the equation. But I think that for a game that’s about discovering the unknown, there is no better way to experience No Man’s Sky than this.
There are other games that have taken this minimalist approach to storytelling. Another shining example of a game that embraces the idea of letting the player interpret the narrative is Journey. Journey was a game that was about so much, and said it all with not a single spoken word. It was rich with mythology, character and emotion, and yet there was never a moment where you were told exactly what was happening. The story of Journey provided unparalleled moments of depth and emotion, and it was all because the game allowed you to feel what it was to take the titular journey to the light.
Games like these I believe are a model for the kind of incredibly powerful stories that this medium can tell. It is an expansion on the idea of how artists can express themselves and it empowers us as players to enter these worlds as ourselves and become truly immersed in the fiction. So when No Man’s Sky launches its epic endeavor into the endless reaches of space, I will be one of the travellers amongst the stars writing my own story. Finding my own way across that endless horizon. I hope I’ll see you there.