When it comes to communication, effective storytelling is a prerequisite. The films we love all have brilliant plotlines. We allow books to teleport our imagination to places that do not exist because the way the stories are written make them believable (Hogwarts? King’s Landing?). Similarly, the ads we admire are effective because they are great stories. In my opinion, a key medium we have failed to explore are video games. (Gaming is worth more than the music and film industry combined). I would like to add that while holding a controller and constantly pressing buttons is a great test for your reflexes (and your parents’ nerves), you also become actively involved in the game’s storyline and its key protagonist.
A game I played not too long ago and which had a storyline that struck me was the much anticipated Last of Us Part 2. Although the story is a cliché as in: ‘I-will-stop-at-nothing-to-take-revenge’, the beauty of it is how effectively the game toyed with the emotions of the player. At first you are playing as Ellie, who wants revenge for something I will not mention here to keep it spoiler free (in case I manage to convince you to play this game, or at least watch the cutscene story on YouTube). For the first half of the game, you feel Ellie’s wrath and anticipate the final showdown as the game progresses with a mix of stealth and hardcore action. However, the twist is that later in the game, you play the previous journey again, but as ‘Abby’ the initial protagonist. As the game is played with Abby, feelings change. You understand the reasons for her actions, her hidden good side and basically how misunderstood she is. By the time you reach the final showdown between Ellie and Abby, you are in a conflict of emotions. When you started you were out for blood, by the end you hoped for a truce. The beauty of this game is how it changes the gamer’s perspective in a roughly 24-hour experience.
Although gaming is considered a waste of time, I believe that a lot of games offer great stories for players, have strong character development and can offer a lot of inspiration not just for storytelling, but for execution references as well.
J. Dawood is a marketing professional.