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Dreamfall Chapters Dev Disagrees with George Lucas on Storytelling

Lucas claims games are still waiting for a Titanic-style storytelling success; Tornquist isn't so sure. Eurogamer's Tom Phillips reports.

By Tom Phillips, Eurogamer. Revised by Pete Davison. Published 9 months ago

Ragnar Tornquist, director of Kickstarted adventure game Dreamfall Chapters, has disagreed with George Lucas' view that the evolution of storytelling in video games is still waiting for a wildly popular success like the movie Titanic.

Tornquist, speaking live on stage at the recent UK-based PC and indie games show Rezzed 2013, mentioned the controversial comments from Lucas made earlier this month.

"Games are where storytelling is being experimented on the most," Tornquist began. "Take Journey, one of the best games I've ever played - it tells an amazing story through pictures and sound that you just wouldn't see in a TV show.

"It reminds me of a few weeks ago when George Lucas and Steven Spielberg were having a conversation about games. Lucas said that 'the second you get the controller something turns off in the heart, and it becomes a sport'.

"It made me so angry because I'm currently playing The Last of Us... I'm not going to spoil anything -- but the beginning of the game sets up this great emotional connection... The controller turns on and your heart does not turn off. You feel desperate."

Lucas' comments drew fire at the time after the Star Wars creator was heard to say that games were still waiting for an "actual love story".

"The big game of the next five years will be a game where you empathize very strongly with the characters and it's aimed at women and girls," Lucas explained. "They like empathetic games. That will be a huge hit and as a result that will be the Titanic of the game industry, where suddenly you've done an actual love story or something and everybody will be like 'where did that come from?' Because you've got actual relationships instead of shooting people."

"The big game of the next five years will be a game where you empathize very strongly with the characters and it's aimed at women and girls."

George Lucas

The Rezzed panel was made of up of a range of voices on video game storytelling -- but all saw a bright future for the medium, whether that be through linear storylines or emergent gameplay.

"A lot of the best stories these days are not necessarily being told with NPC characters and huge swirling orchestral moments," Project Zomboid's Will 'Velvet Owl' Porter said. "They're being told on YouTube and Twitch.tv, like FTL and DayZ."

"Linear storytelling is never going to go away," Tournquist concluded. "I think the most interesting experiences are the ones where developers try and blend it with the emergent player story and combine the two."

Catch up with the panel in full below.

The best community comments so far 3 comments

  • Chromie 9 months ago

    " it tells an amazing story through pictures and sound that you just wouldn't see in a TV show"

    Not a tv show but 2001: Space Odyssey did pretty much that. I love that movie.

  • Bla1ne 9 months ago

    I think he fails on the basis that he thinks games need to emulate movies. I could go and list a number of games that focus on storytelling and characters to prove him wrong, but bottom line is his argument is invalid to begin with. Journey is a great example because it reaches the player emotionally, through online interaction, in ways movies can't. Games can be just as good as movies at evoking emotions in the same way, but they don't have to, and that's what makes them a great medium.Edited June 2013 by Unknown

  • pjedavison 9 months ago

    @Bla1ne Yeah, this is it; there seems to be an "all or nothing" mentality when it comes to video game storytelling -- people seem to think that you can EITHER do pre-scripted narratives OR have emergent mechanics creating stories through play. There is no need to pick one or the other and stick with it. Some games even incorporate both.

    My favorite experiences are still pre-scripted games like JRPGs and visual novels, as I find those the most emotionally engaging. Emergent mechanics such as those seen in games like Minecraft and the like are a lot of fun to share with friends, though.

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