It may not seem like it, but the stories told through video games are actually quite astounding.
Video games take you on quite the adventure. There could be a variety of different perspectives shared in a storyline, development of characters is subtler yet vastly more detail-oriented when dissected, and there is quite an amazing variety in the different plights and issues each storyline presents.
Probably my favorite genre, or type, of video game I enjoy the most is that of Japanese Role Playing Games (or JRPG’s for short). I also enjoy regular-old RPG’s, (Role Playing Games), but it certainly has its differences when compared to JRPG’s. In Japanese Role Playing Games, there’s more of an emphasis on the dramatic effects of story-telling devices. A death of a character in a JRPG has a more in-depth moment of clarity then that of RPG’s, but with that said; RPG’s also have unique ways of killing off characters (sometimes, it can be a bit sadistic). JRPG’s, with a few exceptions, are more concerned with each character and their developments throughout the story arc, and showcase a very deep sorrow/meaning on a character’s death when it happens.
A great example of this can be seen in Final Fantasy VII. In this game, there is a character named Aeris/Aerith (depending on translation of the game in your region). SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t played this game (even though it’s been out well over 2 decades) please don’t read on.
Anyways, in the game, it builds her up as one of the core main characters involved in the story of the game. You get to know her thoroughly enough to understand that she’s quite a unique individual with an important past lineage. But due to unfortunate events, the game’s main villain, named Sephiroth, kills her about midway in the game’s entire story. She dies in a very dramatic manner. While she is praying to the “Life Stream”, Sephiroth kills her as he jumps down from the sky and slides the katana he wields, painfully into her back. The player, who is left speechless and wondering, what has just happened, mourns the passing of her untimely death throughout the reminder of the entire game. In fact, she is still mentioned a few times throughout the remaining story by the other main characters, as they ponder and reflect on Aeris/Aerith’s life. (She even makes a small reappearance in the game towards the end).
Of course, there is more to the story as well of Final Fantasy VII, but the point I’m trying to make, is that the storyline is not only visually effective, but it also is physically-affecting to the player. After all, any little thing that happens to the main cast of characters affects each player controlling the characters throughout the many battles and encounters in ways indescribable. You would have to play a JRPG (or RPG) to fully understand. Unlike a movie, where you are just a viewer of the film; video games actually make you feel like the death happened due to the fact that you’re controlling the characters throughout the storyline. Your actions, sometimes, can affect the outcome of certain character’s fates.
Video games are interactive, creating a deeper bond with you and the storyline being told. A great example of this can be found in the Turn-Based/Tactics JRPG game series entitled Fire Emblem. If you happen to find yourself playing a Fire Emblem game, you will find that your decisions on where to move characters during battle sequences, could very well get them killed. But unlike in some video games, where a character can come back after they faint in battle, in Fire Emblem, once a character dies they die for good. (Of course, in modern renditions of the series, there’s an option in the beginning to play on Casual mode, which is more forgiving. But nonetheless, avid fans of Fire Emblem usually play on Classic mode).
The death of a character in Fire Emblem effects how the story of the overall game is told to you. So each player can have their own unique experience playing it, since there are dozens of characters playable within any Fire Emblem game.
In a real sense, you actually get the freedom to imagine what could be, and what is in fact true.
Conclusively, as a writer, such storylines like the ones aforementioned certainly have helped my writing throughout the years. I’ve come to truly understand the importance of character development and also the important effect I should leave a reader with when a character dies. After all, getting to the end of a book is only half the journey; for the journey itself is what really matters…
Forever in Your Debt,