The awe inspiring cutscenes, music, long dialog, and storytelling in video games mimic films. Whether the player helps create an experience or watches it unfold, it is essentially the same as going to the movie theater. A decade from now video games will become another way of viewing a story and might not even be considered a game, but a form of interactive storytelling.
A story arc starts with an exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and lastly the resolution. Like films, video games have incorporated the story arc so much that it can even be seen within fighting games. The Tekken series had the player choose the character they wanted and gave a series of battles or rounds to beat. At the end, the player would get a short clip featuring the character they had chose which would reveal a snippet of a background story. Tekken 6 had added a new way of telling the character’s story. Like the older versions there would be the small clip featuring the characters, but the story mode made a fighting game less like a fighting game. Story mode had brought each character together by combining a story the player unfolded by completing each level. Soul Calibur V also includes a story mode that focuses on the characters Pyrrha and Patroklos. Each fight the player fought was significant to the story and with each battle won, more pieces of the story unfolded. Even if Soul Calibur had not included the fights, the cutscenes had enough information and character development to make way for a short film.
Dragon Age: Origins had focused on the Warden character and his or her journey to stop a Blight from occurring. Dragon Age had introduced the game with an introduction that can be seen in films such as, 2004’s King Arthur directed by Antoine Fugua. The video game and filmboth start with a short written explanation; Dragon Age had a quote from one of the game’s world scriptures and King Arthur had an explanation of the history behind the characters and era. King Arthur had the character Lancelot telling of the tale that would introduce the movie’s main plot just as the character Duncan in Dragon Age had done in the telling of the tale of the Grey Wardens. Dragon Age had also followed a story arc. A horrible tragedy that would force the player into becoming a Warden, the death of the King against a villainous foe that spirals towards the events of building an army, preparing for battle, determining the fate of companions and nation, while finding a way to overcome the antagonist, and finally achieving a conclusion. The same can be seen in King Arthur where Arthur and his knights are forced into a battle against the Saxons and tries to overcome impossible odds to win and save the people and companions.
Stories have started to become more important than the actual video game, meaning less focus on combat, points, etc. At the beginning of Deus Ex Human Revolution the player has the option of choosing between “Give me a challenge”, “ Give me Deus Ex”, or “Tell me a story”. Under the story option it states, “You play games for their story and experience, not for their challenge or competitiveness. Enjoy the Deus Ex experience!”. Another video game that has a similar feature is seen in Mass Effect 3. The player has the option of choosing the experience they want being, “Action”, “Role Playing”, and “Story”. When Story is chosen it reads, “Customize your character experience and control the interactive story without difficult combat”. Mass Effect 3 also shows how video games have become more like films. The cutscenes and gameplay merge together. There is no real difference between graphics other than having different camera views. Although, through the beginning of Mass Effect 3 as the character Shepard runs into battle the scenery displays a full view of an enemy destroying the city. Even when the player reaches certain points, what should have been a cutscene had changed into a cinematic scene embedded with gameplay views. This difference from other games creates an immersion for the player. Imagine a movie where there is a battle that suddenly changes the visuals when characters are conversing. It doesn’t happen, for the viewer would be swept out of the world the film creates. Mass Effect 3 resembles a film because the player never truly leaves the Mass Effect world created for them. The only difference (besides map, health bars, etc.) is the player effects the story and contributes to battle. Music also plays an important part to Mass Effect 3 as seen during the end of the introduction (and in the last scene of the game). A morbid scene plays out without hardly any other sounds other than the song Escape From Earth by Clint Mensell. The player sits in utter silence watching the events unfold before them as the game creates emotion with visuals and sound. The same effect occurs during the ending scene of Inception directed by Christopher Nolan with Han Zimmer’s song Time. The viewer watches the conclusion of the story they had invested their time in by watching the scenes projected for them while taking in the remarkable soundtrack meant to move the viewer’s emotions. Movies had come with soundtracks because music was an important part to a film to help in expressing a mood or feeling to what was being shown. Now that video games are also creating soundtracks is because the focus of games is no longer just a competitive point seeking distraction, but a piece of media that gives the player another world to care about and escape into.
Of course, one could dispute the whole idea of video games being similar to films and say, “films don’t have health bars or maps.” and that is a truth. Although, take away the battle system, the maps, and any other bars including health, mana, etc. and what is left is an interactive story such as Heavy Rain. Heavy Rain is still a video game but doesn’t act like one. The camera views show different angles to move the story along fluidly, the characters are believable people, and there is no difference between cutscenes and gameplay. Each character shift within Heavy Rain is like a different scene connecting to the bigger story. Even such game features as the character Norman Jayden’s ARI (a device that finds clues at crime scenes or surroundings) are explained to integrate into the story (being that it is a tool created for FBI agents such as Jayden). Also, music is present in forming the mood for particular scenes as shown in Mass Effect. Se7en directed by David Fincher is similar to Heavy Rain for many reasons, one being display. A lot of scenes in Heavy Rain combines music with intense scenes such as Madison’s possible death scene or Norman Jayden’s chase scene into the walk-in freezer, which also occurs when Se7en’s characters discover victims. Even “boss battles” in Heavy Rain make it possible for characters to live or die. Through those events the player is more focused on keeping their character alive while fear sweeps through them if the outcome looks grim. This brings in the love of characters. Movies present the viewer with characters they either love or hate and when someone dies it gives the viewer an emotional response. Heavy Rain lets main characters die just as Mass Effect does. Films create emotional responses for their audience and video games are starting to do the same.
Basically, video games are creating experiences for their audiences to view and interact with. Options such as Story Mode are becoming more frequent and shying away from combat. The use of music, camera views, dialog, and character development, that have been given to a movie audience is now given to the players. The near future will bring video games closer into that direction which will take away the gaming and bring the interactivity. Soon, players will only have to sit back, relax, and watch the stories they are apart of unfold.