More Thoughts From Me #10: Video Games Don’t Need Stories
One of my early entries to this column said that every video game needed a story. Now I’m back to give you the opposite position: Video Games don’t need stories!
Tetris, Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros, and many other games do not have stories. After my last article about video games needing stories, I had some people say, ” Ya, but this game doesn’t have one.” And its true. Not all video games need stories. In fact, I’ll just take it to the extreme and say that video games don’t need stories at all.
Nintendo has proved again and again that gameplay is what matters over story. We all play video games to interact with the gameplay. Why do we need a story? Gameplay is what truly matters with a video game.
Look at Tetris for instance. Tetris has been around since NES/Gameboy years. Would we want Tetris to have a story? I think a story would ruin Tetris. No, its the actual gameplay of Tetris that keeps up coming back. Even after so many versions of Tetris, players are still addicted to the game and thats because of its well crafted gameplay.
Tetris isn’t the only game that doesn’t have a story though. You can look at games like Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros, and many other racing and fighting games to see that a story wasn’t needed and it always seemed forced when there was one.
I remember when Super Smash Bros Brawl for the Wii included a Story mode. I liked it, but honestly, I always went back to the fighting more. The story mode seemed a bit forced and sort of just there. Why did Super Smash Bros need a story even? Obviously, Nintendo agreed because the story mode didn’t return for Super Smash Bros for the Wii U and 3DS.
Oh and look at the Mario Kart series! Can we honestly say that Mario Kart needs a story? It doesn’t need a story and if it had one, we’d all be groaning about how long it was taking to get to the racing.
I would put forward that there are many indie games and third party games out there that try to have a story but shouldn’t have done it. Stories only get in the way of great gameplay. I mean, look at games like Metal Gear Solid and their three and half hour (or more) cutscenes. Ok, thats an exaggeration, but not by much. The ending of Metal Gear Solid 4 just went on and on and on and on. I thought it would never end! Yes, sometimes cutscenes in video games are cool, but most of the time they just take you out of the video game experience. Shouldn’t video games be just about the gameplay and nothing else? What do you guys think?
So you might be asking yourself: wait, weren’t you the guy who said every video game needed a story!
Yes, yes I was. But I also said at the end of it I knew the argument for video games not needing stories. Stories just get in the way of gameplay. Especially cutscenes. And there are games like Tetris, Brawl, and Mario Kart 8 that definitely do not need stories.
What’s the truth? What’s my opinion really? Well, you’ll have to figure that out for yourself. I’m not going to tell you! So there!
I’ll be back next week with my thoughts on the Wii U Indie scene.