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Level Up!: The Guide to Great Video Game Design by Scott Rogers

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Chapter 3. WRITING THE STORY

Almost since the dawn of gaming, designers have debated which is more important: story or gameplay? Some designers believe games require a story to engage the player. Other designers think a story is what people use to describe play when it is finished. Pro-story designers reply that games are an artistic medium used to tell a story. Anti-story designers counter that a story is what you watch while the game loads. Designers at Game Developer Conferences all around the world face off against each other: one group yelling "Bioshock!" while the other side shouts "Doom!" back. Silly designers. They are both right and wrong. A game doesn't need to have a story, and yet it always has a story. Perplexing? While you are chewing that over, let's look at the classical definition of "story" as taught by everyone from Aristotle to very famous screenwriters. Here's the most basic structure of a story:

WRITING THE STORY
  1. First, there is a hero who has a desire.

    WRITING THE STORY
  2. Our hero encounters an event that throws his life into disarray and interferes with obtaining the desire. This event causes a problem for the hero.

    WRITING THE STORY
  3. The hero tries to overcome the problem ...

  4. ... but his method fails.

  5. There is a reversal ...

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