As far as conveying a story, pulling a person into a world and mythos, games have kind of a raw deal. Goes against what most people think, huh? Oh sure, the potential for blowing every other medium out of the water is there for games. But right now? Not just yet.
The potential is high because of the interactivity of games – how better to draw someone into a world that to allow them to interact with it, affect it, take part in it? But if you attempt to wrap your head around a truly interactive, mutable, participatory game or storyline, you realize the possibilities are endless. A player must be able to talk to every person, must be able to move every object, even hit any object with any other object, must be able to go everywhere. That’s a lot of decision trees that need to be written. And coded. And actual fully-designed-from-all-angles 3D models. Oi.
And then, there’s the player inputs to be considered. Can one really feel involved in a swordfight, or a motorcycle chase scene, or a sneaking infiltration while sitting hunched over on the couch, mashing buttons? Not likely. Yes, some people are making some interesting forays into “true interactive motion,” (Nintendo’s Wiimote, anyone?) And others have made some fun attempts at virtual reality (Try Disney’s Aladdin’s Magic Carpet Ride at Disney Quest.) But the ability to gently flick a wrist and achieve the same result as a wide-arced arm swing, or sitting astride a motorcycle seat instead of on a flat magic carpet is still not quite there yet.
The potential is grand. But not everyone’s a visionary, not everyone understands that potential, or even what makes that potential so special. Right now, we’ve just not reached it – there’s yet so much more to go. And that’s pretty exciting, to work and be around a field with so much room to grow and innovate. But along the way, the game industry has made some pretty grand attempts at reaching that interactivity that can bring alive a mythology of a world. And that’s what this issue of The Escapist, “Moon Chases Sun,” is all about. Enjoy!