I spent a lot of my childhood playing Mario. And everyone knows the basic story of Mario, right? Princess Peach is captured by the evil Bowser and Mario is tasked with saving her. He runs through a lot of exciting places, flings fireballs at turtles, and gets a kiss in the end for all his trouble.
Can we all agree that it's not really the next Hamlet?
And it's not the first, and definitely not the last, video game that's been like this. There are hundreds of video games with sparse or even nonexistent plots. Angry Birds ring any bells? What about Plants vs. Zombies? They're both semi-mindless fun and that's cool.
However, that are also games with stories. Not simplistic Mario-style stories, but crazy intense stories that are worthy of being in a book. A while ago I talked about five video games I think writers should play, and all of them are fantastic examples of video games with stories. And I can keep naming them: Heavy Rain, Assassin's Creed, Mass Effect, Final Fantasy.
I don't know about you, but I think the best games are the ones that have good stories AND good gameplay. Because as much as I love me some Tetris, a little drama always makes things better. If we think about this in book terms, then I adore novels with delightfully complex plots AND fantastic craft elements. Two out of two isn't 100% necessary for success, but the combination can be golden. Or, at least, I think so.
But what do you guys think? Video games with good gameplay or with good stories? Or maybe a nice combination of the two? And what about books? If gameplay is writing craft and stories are, well, stories, which option do you like the best? Let me know in the comments.