[Discussion] Do games need stories?

Descent (1995) had a story that goes: ‘robots have run amok, kill them’
Minecraft doesn’t have one other than: ‘survive’
Dear Ester is only story!
Racing games rarely have any

So many games have intro videos telling stories, but the player just want’s to play, any story should be told in the actual game.

yeah, I like a story that includes you and your decisions, and your tamperings,

It depends on the player of the game. To be honest I don’t like games without a (descent) storyline. I don’t like shooting games (which generally have no story) and even car-games bore me. My favorite games are the old SEGA games like Wonderboy in Monster Land, Wonderboy III, Wonderboy in Monster World and Monster World IV (Genesis/Megadrive). I also bought all Spyro games for PS and PS2. Just to give an idea of what I personally look for in a game. But I know many people who seem to enjoy games with no story.

It’s one of the reasons I got so interested into the game creation because I believe a good story and good gameplay could give the ultimate experience. When playing a game I want the sensation of experiencing a mystery, the deeper the better. But that’s only me talking.

It depends on the target audience.

A game like minecraft is not centralized around campaign play, and a game like descent has a story, but really you only are playing it for the action, you don’t care really whats happening. These are like action and comedy movies, just there to blow shit up and have fun with friends. It’s like Rambo, there was a reason that was going on, but lets face it everybody just watched those movies to watch things explode. These games generally appeal to most gamers now, due to this generations over-saturation of constant time with your friends via internet, phones, games.

A game like Bioshock or Silent Hill (because I don’t know what Dear Ester is and those come to mind first) are like the drama movies of games. Lots of focus on story telling, usually (but not always) a single player experience. These games are like drama movies also in reception imo, usually always the ones to get praised for quality, or never heard of by anyone. That being said though, gaming has turned into such a community based thing that people want that play time with friends. To see this in effect, if you go to a local game shop you will notice that while story based games might get all the praise, they usually deflate in price (if that is your concern) a lot faster than multiplayer games, just due to the longevity of multiplayer. The key to success here is games like the elder scrolls games, adding content and increasing the replay factor.

Racing games are like simulators, I would amount them to watching sports center. Just like sports center these games usually have a very specific target audience. If you ever go play a game like Forza, or Gran Turismo, the majority of the players (at least the ones I know and meet) are playing because they love cars and racing games. It’s sort of a safe bet. Racing games like forza, and other sports sims like madden will always have an audience who follows it because that is just their thing, but imo it’s not the most popular of genres.

I think it is important, when making a game, to pick one and stick with it. Some games have successfully fused the genres, games like WoW which are story based and MMO, but these games are rare due to the time demand on most game devs. Usually what happens is a game will try to do both equally, and they will both fail. Non-captivating multiplayer, which a weak story. Or, they will focus on one, and just throw the other part in and it will be pretty weak, and almost not worth spending the resources on. A game like this is The Darkness, amazing story mode, and multpilayer was fun, but so little effort was put into it that it lagged, and lost it’s community fast.

For one man indie game making type projects, to establish a good community fast and even while the game is still in testing, multiplayer is the way to go. Cheap, fun, action packed multiplayer will of course garner more people to your game than single player.

Think about it, in one cause you play an AMAZING indie story game that took the devs a good while to make, and you’ll probs recommend it to your friends, but that is as far as it goes.

The other case, you played a fun and action packed multiplayer game and it’s cheap or F2P, you ask your friends to come play with you and the community starts forming faster because even after that initial invite to come, you can keep drawing your other friends into it, and then they bring in friends, and it goes on like a chain.

So to cut myself off, before I just ramble and ramble, my opinion is that it really depends on the game and target audience. Some games need all story, other games need no story. Multiplayer based games will have an easier time reaching success imo than story based games.


No, stories make people think too much. If you have to have one, dumb it down enough to where a 2nd grader can grasp every nuance of the plot. Then you can make billions like the big game companies do.

Final Fantasy 8 was good… it was almost all story, and FF7

I did not like 10 that much, purely because I did not like the protagonist,

No matter how good a story is, it’s not going to work out if I am rooting for the monsters

Hahaha, this is why the mentality exists!

I don’t think games need stories but I do think that I depends greatly on the purpose of the game. For instance I don’t think arcade games or sports games benefit much from stories, bit games like rpgs and fps would be terrible if they didn’t have a story.

The Walking Dead is amazing. It all depends on what you want to make/play. Some people (like myself) like a game with a good story line. whereas others prefer games that jump you straight into the action without much (if any) story. It can also depend on what sort of mood the player is in. After a 12 hour day of college I find it hard to sit down and play a game with complex story lines. But I enjoy jumping into a game of COD Black ops 2 zombies. Its just more relaxing to blast some zombies to smithereens than to get attached to a lovable character only to see them die a horrible death.

So to answer your question; no, games don’t need a story line. But it can be very enjoyable with one :yes:

Depends on the game really. Some are story driven, some are just sandboxes, and some just have a cool or quirky game mechanic…

I personally like stories, but plenty of games that don’t have a storyline are very popular as well…

Games are meant to played, first and foremost.

An interesting story can be a very nice additive, but without a good gameplay experience at the core, it’s nothing more than an interactive movie, where the player is simply going through the motions to reach some cutscene.

… Although, there are some people who prefer that, but personally, I think there’s far too much focus on “story” in the game industry, and far too little innovation in the gameplay space.

Will depend on what you are aiming for, gameplay is what make a game a game but a good story is always a gain.

The Bioshock series (including the bioshock infinite DLC) begs to differ :wink:

People bought it because of the graphics and puzzles and killing. I’m not saying everybody did that, but the vast majority did. If it was just about going under water to take out freaks people would still buy it. :expressionless:

I think games should entertain.

Everything that helps that goal is fine. If you think a story helps … go on. If you think it does not add more entertainment, skip it.

You can build a game around a story. The player might want to continue to experience how the story goes on.
You can build a story around a game. This makes the game fit into a greater context.

You can make a story a game. This let the player participate the story.

Finally each game has a story, even when it is very simple. E.g. Tetris: how can you match falling blocks to fill a row. See it explode.

I think a game should have a story, but not so much so that it pulls away from the gameplay. The best example I can think of is Portal; a puzzle game, which focuses entirely on the puzzle element, but still has a pretty good story line. Portal 2, on the other hand pulls away from this a bit with “interactive” cutscenes (cutscenes where you can still move around, but still have to wait for them to shut up), however is still a brilliant game and story since it’s not like just watching a movie.

I really like a massive plot twist in my games, but not to over-do the story to the extent where playing it is like watching a pretty bad movie.

‘Skip’ button is a must.

For me, when I ever decide to play a game, I just skip every single cinematic and try to drift off the objectives. Having to be tied to a certain plot and having to wait for stuff to happen is like “working” not “playing”.

Well, I think it kind of depends on the game itself. If you’re making a game like Battlefield or something, then yeah, story’s probably not that important at all. If you’re making a game like Paper Mario, though, and especially after already making one or two games in the series that have really prominent stories, then you probably shouldn’t drop them.

I heard a lot of people were disappointed in Paper Mario Sticker Star because it had a much less tight focus on the story, though I can’t imagine the gameplay changed much. That leads me to think that story probably matters more and more the more “static” the game is. For example, if there’s no story in an RPG game, then people probably won’t play it much. I think I would like more of a story and events for platforming games. Games should be about game-play first and foremost, of course.

IMO games have to have stories. I personally don’t care much about games without stories (yes, my first game doesn’t really have a story incorporated into it, but I see it as one fundamental flaw). To me, and gamers alike, games are about immersion and experiencing worlds that don’t exist in real-life. Escapism if you will.

However, there are plenty of gamers / developers who don’t care for stories.