Friday, March 11, 2011

Sacred Story

For me game and story are one, and they are both sacred. Though what we create may be fictional, the story itself is very real. To break this bond between player and story is to break creativity. We must immerse ourselves in all stories, great or small. Characters matter, relationships matter, story matters. When we forget story, and let it fall to the wayside, characters become unimportant.

Questions are the hallmark of story. If we, as players and characters, have no questions then the story has ended.

As of recent I have found that I no longer truly enjoy games where story is not sacred. Rolling dice, accomplishing missions, leveling up, interacting with others... all of it has no meaning for me if the story is not coming first.

Why? Why should I care about what happens? "Compel me to ask!", my mind screams. I can play without rules, I can jam without dice, I can even create without help, but I cannot do any of this without story. Good story, in my book there is no substitute.


  1. I spent too much time playing games solo. This has drawn me particularly to a class of games called roguelikes, where *everything* is determined by the random number generator. There is a fair bit of well developed theory/thinking on the procedural content generation that underlies these types of games (the best source, I believe, being a blog called Ascii Dreams)

    Playing a single game, you get fortunate for any narrative to emerge. It's random chance, after all. Playing a series of games, it becomes easier and easier to weave a narrative together. Story emerges from one's interaction with the stochastic process.

    I come away from some of these games with epic stories to tell--near misses, chances taken, opportunities gained and lost. Playing these games fullfills my need for story. As good as any outlet available to me, anyway.

    Yet, it is difficult to articulate these stories to other people. The weight of the narrative isn't in a single playing, but the long story for which each game tells a small piece.

    I find what I miss most is coming out of the experience wanting to share, but there being too much context to bridge. "I killed my first dragon." doesn't quite communicate the feeling of staring across a firey chasm, my own reflection horidly looking back at me in the eyes of my terrible foe, one neck of many cauterized with that fire as the only chance I have of standing my ground.

    My play group, now geographically scattered, has a shared story of our (character's) coming of age; one in which we can sit quietly together in those times we do see each other with the knowledge of our shared experience. It is those moments of story that I miss. Their lessons being a shared realization of what we're going to do next.

  2. I am glad that you have been able to find story in some way, and I am glad you shared your own experience. Story can come in many different forms, and sometimes it is difficult to express through other mediums.

    I am fortunate to have a small supportive group that nurtures my need to tell story. Usually there are just three of us in total, but the synergy that comes out between us is amazing. I am always thinking of stories when we are apart, but usually they fall short of that shared experience.

    However as I grow as a story teller I find that I am better able to access story on my own. Characterization and plot become second nature. I draw a lot from the world around me, like I imagine most authors do, but the decidedly stories are mine.

    Sharing story is a separate, but related, skill. I suppose I have always had a knack for it and a desire to spread my tales. It takes patience, timing, memory, and enthusiasm. Story has a special meaning for me, and I hope that every story I tell has something to teach. Sometimes capturing every detail is less important than bringing a single one to the forefront.

    To be honest, I think that your storytelling abilities are better than you give them credit for. Yes the dice you roll determine events, but in the end it is up to the you, the storyteller, to summarize the events and weave the tale. Some stories are created, and others are forged.

    Forge on friend! May your stories be bountiful!