DICE talk: Jaffe thinks focusing on story is a waste of time

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DICE talk: Jaffe thinks focusing on story is a waste of time

Post  Pugovitz on Fri Feb 10, 2012 7:21 pm

Our favorite outspoken, vulgar God of War developer has something to say about story in games (link).

First off... Ooo, I forgot DICE was happening. I love listening to talks and summits given by industry luminaries. It's important to hear from professionals and be more involved in the industry you want to join, what ever it is. I read GamesIndustry.biz emails every day and keep up with events like DICE and GDC, just so I keep in touch with what's happening in the industry. Not just to possibly become a better game developer, it's just nice to know how the industry is doing financially and what I can expect as far as the job market when I get out of school.

Second... Damn, does Jaffe love to say controversial stuff. I kind of agree that games are very unique and have an opportunity to do totally new things, but I also disagree. Games have the capability of telling great stories and engaging the audience in a deeper way than before.

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Re: DICE talk: Jaffe thinks focusing on story is a waste of time

Post  thasric on Sun Feb 12, 2012 5:18 pm

XD That's such a silly standpoint... I've never felt that a game was worse for the story, even in the most story-intensive games. I personally like it when developers use gameplay to accent a particular plot point; it intensifies the moment and provides an interesting change of pace.

I'm not alone in this opinion, either. I know tons of people who completely geek out over things like that, and others who won't touch a game that doesn't have a story. So why try to stifle that particular market? If you don't like it, then cool; make games you like instead. But don't act like your way is the only way.
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I Defend an Asshat

Post  Duke of Spoot on Mon Feb 13, 2012 9:34 pm

While I certainly don't agree with the esteemed Mr. Jaffe (ahem, story writer, ahem), I can definitely understand where he's coming from. You're not utilizing the art form if you are merely creating movies you can play. Games like Final Fantasy XIII (and I'm assuming XIII-2) have you watching more than you are playing, and the end result are experiences that may be wildly engaging, but fail to answer the question "Why couldn't this have been a movie?"

I think what Sir Jaffe was trying to do was dissuade developers and players from looking at games through the lens of older, more established artistic mediums. One of the most dangerous pitfalls of describing video games to the uneducated observer is ascribing the artistic merit solely to the visuals, sound-design, and story and excluding the crucial component that is gameplay. Even emphasizing these elements more than gameplay risks convincing outsiders (and even fellow gamers) that video games are artistically expressive only by those means.

Furthermore, the fervor of resentment statements like these garner should stand as a testament to how hard the community of gamers needs to fight against the ideas Jaffe is attacking. We should be critical of games whose only purpose is to tell a story. Stories can be told in books, visuals can be shown in paintings, sounds can be made in music, and the combination of these can be seen in film. A game whose purpose is to only do these things should not have been a game in the first place.

In conclusion, though his attack on storytelling in games may be less David vs. Goliath than it is David's mouth vs. his foot, there is a broader context for his statements that needs to be dealt with before we all, in unison (me leading the charge) declare him an ass. And next time you tell your friend who doesn't play video games how good Ico is, be sure to put as much emphasis on the gaming experience as you do the beautiful environments, haunting soundtrack, engaging characters, and under-spoken story.
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