Should open world games rethink how they tell stories?

We’ve all observed stories that use the ‘x days later’ device. A linear narrative can avoid weeks, months and years of bunkum by jumping to the next interesting bit. It’s a trick which allows the storyteller to stick to the good bits, providing it is used effectively. It’s a trick we can all accept and appreciate.

Now imagine you were reading a book or watching a film where the inverse happened. Instead of moving time forward ‘x weeks’ into the future, the story instead took a detour which lasted for days or weeks, only to return to the main story as if no time had passed. In most cases, we would find that very odd and a little jarring (unless it’s a dream-sequence or a peculiar plot twist). Yet open world games let this happen all the time.

Videogames can be rigidly linear in gameplay and story, or completely non-linear in either area. In many games story can be absent entirely, but sometimes I feel that the combination of linear story-telling and non-linear gameplay feels unwieldy. We as gamers are meant to follow a pattern of close-knit events whilst simultaneously spending hours on exploration and random side missions.

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World War Two Snipers – Videogames vs History

History can be less exciting than the fiction it inspires. I can accept that with a smile. War movies, TV shows and games can bathe the World War Two era with so much action and violence that the reality is all but lost. That is not a bad thing, in any way. Not only is it pleasing to see what the historical context can be morphed in to, but allowing some distance between exciting fiction and grim reality is often appreciated. However, sometimes the reality is exciting enough without poetic license. Furthermore, the History of the World Wars still offers so much more inspiration yet to be tapped.

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How Historically Accurate is Skyrim? Part 5

Skyrim is doomed. The “hero” I have created isn’t really focused on saving the day. They have spent more time picking flowers and catching butterflies than they have spent killing dragons. We’ve meandered into so many caves and caverns, distracted by so many side quests, that I’m not sure how far down the main story we’ve travelled. I and my created character are so easily distracted, that the final dramatic confrontation may never actually come to pass.

Skyrim 5

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Does History defend the tradition of Male Protagonists?

I enjoy finding parallels between Gaming and History, and the treatment of gender in each field shows some commonality. Within the realm of videogames, gender is a topic of debate/discussion/angry rants all of itself. The representation of women is continuously dissected and revaluated. It’s not something that should have to be so scrutinised, but it’s good that the discussion is so positive a lot of the time. In History, women are also considered as a separate topic for discussion a great deal of the time. It’s not ideal, but to avoid the topic at all would be far worse.

[Educational Warning – this blog contains mild amounts of learning and me being more grown-up than usual]

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How Historically Accurate is Skyrim? Part 4

There’s lots of things I enjoy about over-analysing Skyrim, and the responses I get are a big part of that. There are a pleasingly small number of people that misread the title and my intentions (“Oh sure, the game with dragons is veeery accurate…”), and a fantastic number of readers willing to add their own knowledge and join the discussion. Sometimes, one of you lovely people will step in and flesh out something I have mentioned or correct a minor mistake, which is awesome to see. Learning should be a two-way exercise after all. And there’s still a lot of untapped History within The Elder Scrolls.

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If you’re joining this gaming/history blog at Part 4, hello and welcome. I started playing Skyrimfor the first time last November, and I’ve been climbing every tower and turning every rock for signs of History. Sometimes real life Historic details are the clear inspiration for a detail in the game, and sometimes the game appears to stumble into a historic comparison. And in one particular situation, History actually helps to explain one of the most famous lines in the game…

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How Historically Accurate is Skyrim? Part 3

When I first asked the above question, I didn’t think I’d be able to write a third part. I was so sure that as I trundled further into the fantasy landscape, less historic details would present themselves. As magic and mythical beasts become increasingly prevalent, I expected to spot fewer references to the real ancient world. Whilst this is very definitely the case, Skyrim is still presenting quirky little historical accuracies.

How Historically Accurate is Skyrim? Part 3

For those who’ve missed the first two parts, the aim here is to highlight all the little ways thatSkyrim is influenced by History. In some cases these comments refer to very real events, whilst in other cases I refer to things that people believed were real throughout History, such as dragons. And no, I’ve still not found any historic evidence to prove that dragons were real. I’ll keep looking though.

So here are a few more aspects of Skyrim that show the mighty influence of historic events. Educational Warning: Minor amounts of learning ahead.

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Animal Weapons – Videogames vs History

If you want a game to look zany, turn any animal into a tool for destruction. The creature might be the weapon itself, useful for bludgeoning, or it might be the ammunition that you fling or fire at your confused opponents. Either way, animal weapons are usually delightful. On the other hand, animal weapons in History tend to be a bit more alarming…

Animal Weapons – Videogames vs History

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