I was listening to Grape Radio, “where an enthusiasm for wine gets personal.” In a previous episode, someone had stated some opinions on wine, causing a firestorm of debate among listeners. That’s how I feel about stories.
Someone told me that a great game can lack a story. He cited Tetris as one such great game. But for me, Tetris was not a great game. It was a fun game, true. I remember in college spending hours playing it, until I saw blocks fall from the sky and almost panicked because I couldn’t stack them up in time. All night long, throughout my dreams, I would play Tetris, stacking blocks, lining the up, nice and neat, like Monk. But that lasted only a day or two. Then I went away and never thought of it again. Oh, occasionally, I still do play Tetris, or solitaire, or breakout, or Mario Kart, or Crash Bandicoot, or some other fun game. But I don’t reminisce about falling blocks or any of those other things. I do reminisce about being Manny Calavera, or Tex Murphy, or Ben of the Polecats. And I dream of doing it again someday soon.
On the other side, when I read on one of the adventure boards a post gushing that The Longest Journey was the greatest game ever, I felt a burning inside. I pulled together some reviews of mine from 6 years ago and posted that it was okay, but not one of the best, because it has some fundamental story flaws. I expected as usual that no one would understand where I was coming from. But to my surprise, post after post appeared saying, basically, that The Longest Journey was a good game, but not anywhere near as good as Grim Fandango.
(I do not, by the way, reminisce about being April Ryan. But I do reminisce about escaping from exile in Myst III.)
There’s something deep within the human psyche that desires to experience pain and triumph, and it can do so through stories. A great story is addictive. But that’s another post.