Video games as forms of narrative storytelling

Ashawnta Jackson reviewed Eric Hayot’s work on video games and its interconnection with novels and narrative storytelling:

Though early video games like Pong may have lacked what we think of a narrative, games “belong to a longer history of storytelling,” writes Hayot. Sure, it’s just a white ball bouncing from paddle to paddle across a pixelated screen, but it draws from earlier traditions. “Interaction was a story-mode for centuries,” Hayot explains, noting the history of shouting at stages in everything from Punch and Judy shows to Shakespeare. And as Russworm writes, the “synergy between game and cinema … blurs many of the traditional, formal distinctions between the two mediums.” Video games are not just their own way of storytelling, but are continually drawing from others, creating a new way of thinking about the craft. As Hayot explains, “any true understanding of what narrative aesthetics are doing in general, is impossible if we do not also understand the work video games are doing on that front.”

I wonder where films like Pixels and Wreck-It-Ralph would fit into this ideology. The former is certainly backwards-engineered and a very bastardised version of gaming narrative storytelling (perhaps it would have worked better as a deeper narrative on grown up kid champions but it starred Adam Sandler) but Wreck-It-Ralph has much more charm and feels more akin to what Hayot asserts.

See also: Brenda Romero on video games are art, exploring the world of Asian cuisine through indie video games and Masala Noir – Video Games (1980–2000)

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