Computer games are trying to kill The Story by coming to frag your children’s minds. Run for the hills! And switch from the crowbar to the rocket launcher. You’re going to need it.
Computer games are the devil’s work. But you knew that – it’s one of the reasons they’re so damned fun. The diabolical provenance may also explain why they’re not good, not if story is your business, as it is mine.
Seductive as they are, computer games are anti-story machines, and designed as such. And that matters because apart from that cunning opposable thumb gimmick one of the main features that distinguishes us from the other creatures on the planet is that we are story-telling animals. Story’s important, and it’s of no consequence how and where you get it – books, films, TV, theatre, bible, mosque, synagogue – it’s all story and it’s all crucial in explaining our nature to ourselves.
Stories do this by having beginnings and middles and ends, and protagonists who make significant journeys during which they grow and change and learn and make meaningful sacrifices. Computer games have many distracting and attractive bells and whistles, but other than developing good twitch skills, they don’t really do any of that. And, to be fair, they’re not structured to: they’re play – not story.
I wonder what my friend Clive, who writes about video games in the same way literary critics write about literature, would have to say about this.