Story Or Not?

I’m not so much into stories in games. I care more about the mechanism and player interaction, the story itself is pretty irrelevant for me – at least now. I can play a game of risk with friends of mine and be totally happy. I can shoot some zombies online with my friends, and it’s totally cool. I can even play my own box stacking game and be one happy camper, even when there’s no story.

Some players are totally different. When I’ve asked people what makes Fallout 3 such a wonderful game, I’ve got answers like “the world is designed (or “written”) and that you can influence how the plot goes”. Some guy said how he had experienced different missions killing mutants somewhere and helping some folk elsewhere.

What’s your thoughts?

Do you prefer games that have a strong plot? Or do you prefer games that focus only on gameplay? (I suppose ideal answer could be to “have both”, but this one makes a more controversial poll…)

[poll id=18]

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. Stories can be great in games, you live the story! You can make the story and change it!

    Afrogamer has a great, detailed 2 part article on his quest to kill every single NPC in Fallout 3.

    “Is it fun, though? I’ll have to get back to you on that. It’s certainly creative. I’m ignoring every scripted path the game offers – after all, whenever a quest is thrust upon me, I shoot the messenger’s arms off – and that’s not as simple as you might think. I’m burning every bridge with Fallout 3’s story designers that I come across, and it takes quite a lot of skill and forethought to make sure those bridges burn just right.”


  2. I didn’t vote on this. Because it really depends on the kind of game it is. Fallout wouldn’t be Fallout without story. And a FIFA game wouldn’t improve if a story was included.
    Then there’s games like Need for speed, which attempt a story to give the player a reason to race the next guy.
    I like when a game attempts at least a little back story.
    Left 4 Dead has a story; about 4 people trying to get to the next safe house.

  3. I won’t play a game that has crappy gameplay even for the story (hidden object games, point and click stuff where it’s obtuse), and I won’t play a game that should have a story (RPGs) if it doesn’t have one. I’m not really a fan of stuff that I would play without a story (tetris or whatever) if they add a really stupid story to it (that 99 Bricks Gary thing).

    So I guess there are games that should have a story and those that shouldn’t (in my mind), and stories that should have good gameplay and those that shouldn’t (spin off games from a book or a movie aren’t often that good).

    Also “want” shouldn’t have an ‘ in it (it might be a typo or something).

  4. I like to play both types included and the combination ones of most varieties in between. For the reason that I like story handled as good game design, I abstained from voting.

  5. @Ryan: I wonder why they are called hamburgers… hmm.

    @Lumooja: good point on linear stories versus non-linear ones. Of course many non-linear are also somewhat linear… but disguised.

    @Russell: wow (fallout lines)

    I left the “both” option away for obvious reasons. Knew it would cause some guys not to vote. I guess that means… that some people want both, and won’t enjoy games when either aspect is missing. (Am I missing a mark here?)

  6. I tend to separate those two categories into two different things using the same medium (kinda like gameshows and movies both are on TV, yet completely different things).
    So, there are playgames (typical example: Tetris, puzzle games in general) and talegames (RPGs, adventures) along a number of in-betweens (FPS often make those). I like both, but I tend to do so completely differently – few large chunks for talegames (usually only playing through once), lots of short rounds for playgames (often starting all over).

  7. I said stories, but i like both.. there wasn’t this option… I all depends on the game, and i guess what mood i’m in… I dont read books, so a game with a story line makes up for it :)

  8. Some games require good story, some doesn’t need story at all. Obviously I can’t imagine adventure game without one – but when I’m playing a puzzler, story is the last thing I’m thinking of. I think that today games that suffer the most from not having a good story are rpgs. Authors of some role playing games are so focused on game mechanics, character developing through leveling up your hero that they forget about original, strong story behind it. Seriosly, how many times we have to save the world from the evil god/mage/creature that was put to prison/thrown to other dimension long time ago but now it is going to be released once again?

  9. It depends on the game. I have no specific objection to any type of game. So I didn’t vote.

  10. I think stories are in every game. I don’t like linear stories either (or linear gameplay as well), but I like hidden stories in games which apparently have no story. Those kind of stories make you think, not listen.

  11. Hamburgers generally contain beef, not ham.

    I’m not sure you’ve got enough choices for my tastes.
    I like a game to have a story, but a good story can’t save a bad game. However, a good game doesn’t necessarily need a good story.

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