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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Gamer Logic: Why walk when I can…

In real life, I am able to walk in straight line, without feeling the need to leap into the air every two seconds. I can park my car between the white lines; I have no impulse to roll out of the car before it has come to a stop. When I catch the train, I make a habit of going as a passenger; I’ve never thought that the journey would be more efficient if I was driving. Furthermore, I have never looked at a parachute and thought “this would make travelling to the shops so much easier”.

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