Long Live Play PSN Community Spotlight

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Long Live Play PSN Community Spotlight

Welcome back to another edition of Long Live Play PSN Community Spotlight; where we look at posts submitted in the PlayStation Community Forums to focus on PlayStation-powered stories. We’ve seen a great response from the PSN Community with last week’s debut of the Long Live Play PSN Community Spotlight. This week’s post shows that spotlights don’t have to be all about PlayStation. The gates are open for anything you want to talk about gaming related; but it doesn’t hurt to frame it in a PlayStation context. Read the posting best practices for more info.


This week’s spotlight has PSN member JillyDad taking a look at how stories are told in game. Long time gamers know that games can be as emotionally powerful as any book or movie if they get their storytelling right. JillyDad wonders if games can pave the way for more developers to utilize the vocabulary that only a game could offer.

A New Form Of Media

PlayStation gaming is becoming as much a part of the entertainment industry as movies, but what will it take to be the primary source of entertainment? In terms of storytelling, games are beginning to mature. What I would love to happen is to see how PlayStation pushes games to to evolve into a truly new form of media.

I like to think about PlayStation games that I’ve played that really speak to that idea. Think about games like the Half-Life series. There are no cut-scenes, but there is still the convention of a narrative. Team ICO is able to tell their story with minimal dialogue, and a strong emotional conveyance of seclusion, dread and friendship. ICO told a powerful love story by simply having the characters hold hands as a mechanic. Shadow of the Colossus made you feel a sense of remorse for destroying these majestic creatures, and yet you are driven forward to save a girl that you are never told what your relationship to her is. Games like Flower are getting closer. The story is told through gameplay. Not a word is spoken. Not a face is shown. It is simply petals flying through a landscape. Yet, somehow, I had an emotional response, and perceived a story. All of this was through gameplay.

And then there’s Journey. With absolutely zero text, save for the opening game start screen, the story is completely engaging, yet unbelievably subtle. The multiplayer aspect of it even helps you frame your own story of the ‘journey’ and is unlike anything I’ve experienced. I have never felt so connected to another player online as you feel like you are truly sharing an epic struggle, while basking in the triumphs together. This type of narrative could only be accomplished within a game’s natural gameplay environment, and I’d love to see more experiences like this.

This is the future. Using the GAME to tell the story. I’m looking forward to what developers like That Game Company, Naughty Dog, Valve, Team ICO (and who knows who else?), may have up their sleeves.

What are your thoughts on storytelling in gaming? Any examples you can cite about breakthrough ways that a PlayStation game told a story in a way that only a game could? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. Congrats to JillyDad, who is now the recipient of a $50 voucher redeemable in the PlayStation Store! Send in your stories here, and feel free to read JillyDad’s original post here.

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2 Author Replies

  • it looks like mine didnt make the cut :( maybe it looked more like a rant than an article praising sony :/

    • It’s important to note that this series isn’t just about praising Sony. It’s about gaming discussions framed in a PlayStation world. I would say it’s less a rant and more about just optimistically asking what other new ways storytelling might go through the power of videogames.

  • anyways any news on Gravity rush and what are we getting for waiting this long for it?
    How about Ragnarok Odyssey? Monster Hunter 4? FF type 0? pls any info?

  • As good as those games he mentioned are, they still can’t touch a well written script like MGS3. I appreciate all types of games and definitively feel we need more like Journey, but you can’t talk about “story-telling” or “art” or “emotional resonance” or “maturity” within the industry without bringing up the MGS series.

  • A great game can use ALL forms of great story-telling together in one cohesive experience, rather than just relying on one over the other. That’s where the term “experience” comes from. You can only get it from games because they can deliver a fusion of several things (great book, poem, movie, game, literature, comic, etc. all together)

  • i’m quite interested in this I want to try my hands on being on the PSN Community spotlight( ・ω・`)

  • Hmm.. Interesting post I guess. I do agree games can be as good/better these days for narrative/story telling compared to movies.

    However I personally dislike every game that Jill person listed. I don’t have anything against people liking them, for some reason they’re popular, but all of them to me are very very boring/bad story telling. I’m a gamer that enjoys story/words/dialogue/character/etc… The only part that doesn’t matter for me is graphics/appearance.

    Probably why I focus on RPGs for my gaming, I like to feel as though I’m playing a novel/epic story.

    Still there are many other games that actually do prove Jill’s point to me, so it’s a valid post over all.

    So psn is giving away store credit for random posts saying we like certain games? Nifty I’ll have to check that out.

    • That’s the beauty in gaming is that the experience in story telling can differ from one game to the next. It’s all a matter of what people prefer.

  • congrats, i just paid full price for a 50 PSN card. you got it free from earning it. i never ever won anything in my life lol.

  • I read the original forum post and it looks like you changed the article quite a bit, such as removing the part that tells the truth about Metal Gear solid’s storytelling methods (as in how they rely too much on non-gaming sections to tell story and not enough of storytelling through the game itself).

  • There are a lot more games with bad storytelling than good. As in the ratio is 100:1.

    Most of the stories in games are incredibly puerile. They are also poorly written and acted. It contributes to the poor reputation games have as a medium compared to the other arts. Really wish developers would lift their game.

    I agree Journey is a good example of conveying a compelling story through simple imagery and demonstrates what games are capable of.

    I also wish Sony’s studios would focus on producing games of a consistently high calibre regarding story. Uncharted 2 had a good story for an adventure yarn but they kind of went off the rails with Uncharted 3, it seemed directionless and they repeated chunks from the previous games. Killzone 3 was a great wasted opportunity. They could have made an epic war story with great emotional impact and thought provoking scenes but they made a terrible, cliched, B grade, poor CoD imitation action flick with hammy acting and cringe worthy dialogue instead. Hopefully The Last of Us will be a benchmark for storytelling.

  • I think somewhere in the editing of this, a few of you may have lost my point. This isn’t about good, or bad storytelling in games. (That is up to the game designers.)
    It is about games becoming it”s own form of entertainment media. Games like the Uncharted series, or the Metal Gear series are great games with great stories because they are like movies. What I am talking about is games that tell a story by using the tools that only games have. Gameplay.
    Games that use movie-style story devices can be great, and I don’t nessesarily want them to stop being made. What I am talking about are games that separate the media, that won’t be compared to movies, games that are truly their own form of media.

    P.S. Thank you everyone for your comments, and feedback.

  • good

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