In an effort to avoid getting too philosophical or “meta”, I’m going to keep this short and to the point. I’ve been thinking for some months now about how a game might help change the gaming mindset of running frantically from objective-to-objective. Quest-based storytelling has some severe limits on what kind of stories you can tell.
A couple random thoughts on “new” genres of games that would change the mindset we have when playing them:
- Exploration games: Where the purpose is to discover new things in the world, delve deeper into the world’s lore, and get caught up in some big contextual plot. Technically, you’d need a way of preserving the sense of discovery even after you’d played the game several times. What this means is that the players are looking into mysteries and never know what will happen next. The objectives are vague, like “Find the golden keystone in the dark forest”, and you get to wander into the unknown to accomplish them.
- Anthology games: I call them “Anthology” games, because this type of game might be a collection of short stories through the eyes of many different characters. Imagine in a multiplayer online game, when every single time you log in, you have to play as a different character. This might wean gamers off of the idea that you must have statistical level advancement at all times in an RPG. Instead, because the characters are essentially disposable, it becomes about the actions that you choose during that time, and how it influences the world. In order for this to work, your actions would actually have to matter. The actions of your previous characters should be apparent when you look back or revisit places. The goal then is not to boost the stats of your main character and get them to maximum level. The goal now is to change the world through the actions of your character. See the mindset change?
Anyways, these are just a couple thoughts. Most gamers would probably hate them, but the point is that there are alternatives out there to the standard gamer mindset. If we can find a way to change that mindset to something better, then we’ll be able to tell better stories in games. It’s just a matter of time.