Does it Take Great Story Writing to Make a Great Game?

Last Updated on September 17, 2021 by Michael Brockbank

What makes a great game? Is it the action? Is it the PvP aspect? In reality, it all depends on the player. Some people love the mindless violence of something like PUBG or Fortnite. For me, it’s all about great story writing.

And I don’t mean the storylines of characters you can read in the game or watch on YouTube. Don’t get me wrong, some of the backstories to characters in League of Legends are pretty nice.

I’m talking about the games that are more driven by in-game storylines or through periodic cinematics.

Great Story Writing Floats My Boat

I’ve always been a big fan of the StarCraft franchise. In fact, StarCraft and Diablo were the reasons I built my first PC back in the 90s. So, when StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty came out, I was truly excited.

After pre-ordering the game months in advance, I picked it up from Gamestop. I then proceeded to beat the story mode within three days. And this was when I was working a full-time job and managing a household.

The point is that I found StarCraft II to have great story writing. I was enthralled with the plot, and the cut scenes just kept me playing into all hours of the night.

Looking back, I probably should have gone to bed more often.

At any rate, great story writing has the potential to fully engage and immerse a player.

Did Games as a Service Ruin Great Story Writing?

Lately, a lot of companies have been investing in “games as a service.” From a business standpoint, it’s a solid model for making money.

They can keep a game semi-relevant for years with this model while squeezing every dime they can out of the player base. A single title can generate a great deal of revenue.

But, it lacks something from games of 20+ years ago.

Great story writing.

Sure, there are a few that have some decent storylines and can offer an interesting read. Unfortunately, a lot of games today just lack the same level of immersion into a good plot that can keep you playing for hours on end.

Personally, I’d rather play something like Detroit Become Human or God of War than anything related to Call of Duty.

It’s not because I suck at first-person shooters. On the contrary, I was above average in most FPS games back in the day. But, they really don’t have the same level of story writing in many of the games today.

And don’t get me started about mobile gaming. That’s another crapshoot of its own.

Competitive Nature Drives Many Games

Competition is what drives many people to play online. In fact, I know a lot of people who will buy a game simply for the online aspect. Take Grand Theft Auto V, for example.

I know more people who bought the game for online competitive play than I do who have actually beat the storyline.

And I can admit, I initially bought GTA V for the racing and cooperative missions and heists.

But, I still played the story mode. And contrary to a lot of other players out there, I thought the game had great story writing. But that is the nature of games. Not everyone is going to like the same titles.

That doesn’t mean you’re not a “gamer.” It just means there are games that get your excitement up better than others.

Case in point, I love Minecraft. I’d rather dump a ton of time building in Sky Factory 4 than playing any FPS game on the market. Mostly because I am creative and love to craft and build.

But look at some of the most popular games on Twitch in terms of viewership. Most popular games are driven by competitive play without having a storyline at all.

Or, they’re a bunch of hot women sitting in a hot tub or dancing around like idiots. Again…no storyline.

Sometimes, Fun Games Don’t Need an Immersive Story

On the other hand, not all games you find fun need to have great story writing. Case in point, look at Minecraft. And I’m talking about the original, not the Story Mode that came out a couple of years ago.

Yes, you get this end screen after killing the dragon. But for the most part, you wouldn’t even know that was there unless you killed the dragon or watched someone on stream do it.

Does that mean Minecraft isn’t fun? Absolutely not! I really got into the game because of its mechanics, despite not having an immersive story like StarCraft.

What I’m saying here is that not all great games need to have the same level of story writing, if any at all.

Though, I can say that games that do have a well-driven plot hold my attention way longer than something that doesn’t.

Every Gamer is Different

When it comes to gaming, the only thing that matters is whether you have fun. Being a “gamer” doesn’t mean you follow trends or need to be a crack-shot in Call of Duty.

Consider this: I can’t stand the thought of playing Fortnite. Does that mean I think all Fortnite players are dumb or any less of a gamer? No. If that’s what they like to play, then that’s what they like to play.

Some people really get into MOBAs, while others love simulation games. I know a lot of players who thrive on sports games, Like NBA 2K22.

It’s all a matter of perspective and what you find the most engaging.

Here’s something to chew on; I won’t play any Final Fantasy game out of principle. I never have and never will. Does that mean I’m not a gamer? Nope. It just means I’m petty.

There’s a big difference.

The bottom line is that everyone loves different types of games. Great story writing will prompt me to drop a ton of money on a franchise. Other players will spend a lot of time and money getting cosmetic items in League.

It all depends on what you find fun and what can hold your attention the longest.

ColoradoPlays Extra Life

What Kind of Games Drive You to Play More Often?

To be honest, I thought this blog post was going to go a completely different direction. Instead, it felt like more of a rant. In any case, I still believe game publishers should focus more on great story writing than what in-app purchases can make throughout the year.

Bring me an imaginative plot with a gripping tale, and I’ll easily drop $60 or more on a game. Give me a game centered around loot boxes and in-app purchases with the idea of staying online for the next decade, and I probably won’t spend a single dime.

In fact, I’ve never spent money on any in-game purchases.

For me, it’s all about great story writing.

Michael Brockbank
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Michael Brockbank

Michael developed ColoradoPlays to help various charities through his favorite pastime. Since then, the blog and Twitch channels have donated several hundred dollars to Extra Life, Geeks of Grandeur and Operation Supply Drop to name a few.