Videogame Storytelling

Fictional Storytelling but through the medium of video games.

Traditional fictional storytelling is based on concepts like pacing, suspension of disbelief and exposure.

When attempting to tell fiction through the video game medium, several hurdles present themselves that all have the same root problem: allowing the listener (i.e. the player) control over certain actions and events.

Good pacing in a video game means not only presenting surprising or entertaining events, but also maintaining the player's sense of control as those events take place.

Suspension of disbelief in a video game means not only staying consistent with fictional rules but also technical ones. The strength of opponents in the game, and the structure of the world, et cetera, all needs to make sense in a video game. If the player character suddenly falls through the floor at a certain spot and dies, suspension of disbelief is broken.

Exposure in a video game means not only trying to deliver information in a way so that the player remembers it, but also keeping the player's sense of control while doing so. One way to solve this is to have the player listen to exposure while simultaneously playing the game, as is done in Portal, Thomas Was Alone, The Stanley Parable and The Witness.

Many games choose to keep the exposure optional, through NPC dialogue or readable notes. However, most games have some sort of minimal exposure that is not optional, but tries to hinder the gameplay as little as possible. Hindering the gameplay too much results in the player growing impatient in a way that a listener to a traditional story (i.e. watching a movie, reading a book) never would.