Written by Chris Huiyuan Zhang
With the growth of gaming industry all around the world, it is gradually becoming a platform that is not only for gamer who are seeking well-designed gameplay but also a medium where many well-written narratives are taking place.
Video games are used to be regarded as entertainment for young generations, a toy and something that stands for your childish mentality. Its negative impact are still being seen nowadays from the violence in games like Grand Theft Auto or absurd stories where involves children using their parents money to purchase mobile game items. However, along side with the growth of industry and the developments of technologies, video games has matured into an art form where consumers can enjoy a tear-jerking plot or a franchise like Uncharted that tells one of most intriguing adventure tales since Indiana Jones.
Just like television and films, video games have its own genres, whether it is horror，action, or even comedy. Its genres covers most of the storytelling elements in the traditional storytelling mediums’ genres and more. In today’s video game’s scene, one particular game genre has defined the significance of storytelling in video games, Interactive Cinema. It is a genre that has been widely popular since the release of games like Heavy Rain and The Walking Dead. It uses the unique characteristic of interaction in a video game and give the viewers choice to decide where the story is going, in another word, as the viewers of the story, you are both the screenwriter and the director of the story.
Interactive Cinema offers a new and cutting edge way of storytelling, it is not the traditional “try again” method which can be seen in old-fashioned arcade games, the choices you make eventually will lead to endings that are associated with those decisions.
“Creator David Cage has described Heavy Rain‘s genre as ‘interactive cinema.’ […] It emulates not only the style of film but also the passive construction of its story. (Holmes, p172)
The impact of Interactive Cinema is not only applicable to storytelling video games with recent games such as Life is Strange or Beyond Two Souls, but also the importance of choice and interactions are emphasized in open world games like Witcher 3. Viewers immerse themselves into a world where they can decide the fate of main and support characters and it is something films and television can hardly achieve.
“In some ways, the experience is the process of creating something closer to a cinematic text, in that it is viewed in retrospect and cannot be easily altered. “
1.Holmes, D. (2011). A mind forever voyaging. 1st ed. Amherst, Mass.: [publisher not identified], p.172.
2. Gamestudies.org. (2017). Game Studies – “Interactive Cinema” Is an Oxymoron, but May Not Always Be. [online] Available at: http://gamestudies.org/1201/articles/veale [Accessed 12 Mar. 2017].