Are Stories More Important Than Gameplay in a Video Game?

Ya know, for years I have dealt with people who constantly berate and make fun of me for playing a game simply for story purposes. They failed to get the reason why though. However, I should answer one question before anything: Is a story such a big part of a game, that if it utterly fails, does that mean it is the absolute most important aspect of a game?

No, of course not. The most important thing is gameplay, and the game has to be playable in order to be really enjoyable. So why is story such a big deal? It’s because it allows us to care about the characters we control. We learn what they think, how they feel, their goals, and their attitude about the game in general. We see them develop, and if we like them, we want to see what will happen next. This why you sometimes hear people crying over the death of Aerith in Final Fantasy VII, because they got attached to the character. Or what about fans of Final Fantasy XIII? As much as I admit the overall game was a massive disappointment, and I disliked the story, I least liked some of the characters; granted that game also made me hate a ton more.

But I know what you are thinking: games in the past didn’t have that much complex story-lines, and even games nowadays sometimes barely have a story, and can be pretty entertaining, like Borderlands. And for the most part, I can’t argue with that. Those games rely solely on gameplay and include a lot of content, not giving much up for story, save for maybe some bits and pieces. Games like that however have an opportunity to expand so much on the world with the story, and in the end, you really don’t get attached to the character, or you want to know more so you can actually care about them. Without a story, you are taking out character development, and most gamers want that so that they can care, that they can have a reason to play the game.

And then when you change it, you really hurt the fans of the series. It was like with the ending of Mass Effect 3, because it was a betrayal to the Shepard character as a whole, and not only because it was kind of like the endings in past games, where it was basically a choice with some variation. Aside from the promise BioWare failed to deliver, they betrayed several characters of the series, hence why most fans are angry. Even Angry Joe himself has pointed this out with the squad members and Commander Shepard completely acting out of character within those moments, or for those that also remember his Saints Row 3 review, can recall him saying that the weakness of that game was expanding more on the weird and bizarre, and taking away more of the dramatic and impactful moments the second game had.

Moreover, story-lines can add more to a game, especially from the viewpoint of a developer. They hear of the character’s backstory and attitude, and perhaps they can think of a mission that can delve deeper into their lives, or perhaps have some hints towards that character, or even create something entirely different. Mass Effect 2 was a great example of this with loyalty missions. Even fanfiction writers owe their writing to game’s story, as they can try to expand on the story with their ideas. Okay, not all of them are great, but I have seen good fanfiction. It does exist. But you wanna know why they actually do it? Because they care, even if the game betrays them! Many fanfiction writers, if they don’t like something with a story, they will dedicate their time to change it themselves with their own story.

This is the reason most people like some fans on the Angry Joe Show website mock me for enjoying the story and the characters in it. If it came down to Devil May Cry game that butchers the story yet does manage to bring some amazing gameplay, or the original Mass Effect, which had a lot of slowdowns and such but a good story to carry it, I am more likely to pick up that game because I’ll be able to care about the characters and have more motivation to complete the game, despite the gameplay’s faults. I even focused on getting through Resident Evil 4 simply to know what was going on next, granted fear held me down, but the desire to see the characters get out of the situation drove me. Or there is the Parasite Eve series. Admittedly, the first game’s controls are slow and awkward to use in combat, to downright frustrating, but the story there drives me to see what is going on with Aya Brea.

To summarize, stories can make gamers really care about the characters. Yes, there are bad stories. Oh my god, there are horrible, dreadful stories out their in video games, but that isn’t held up for every game. And trying to make a good story isn’t a good reason to slack off on gameplay either. But it serves as a motivational tool. You don’t have to play a game for a story though. If you like a game for just gameplay reasons, that’s perfectly fine. I am guilty of doing that sometimes as well.

My point of this is to consider what others may think. Not every gamer is the same. Not every human being thinks the same way. If you keep insisting that playing a game for story reasons is laughable and pathetic, you are going to look like a jerk and ignorant.

Believe me, I TRIED to like DMC, I really did, taking my friend’s advice and waiting for more information. But the game destroyed every single thing I loved about the series, and turned it into something I don’t recognize. And as far as gameplay goes, I would rather play Bayonetta. That game may make me dizzy, but the combat looked and felt like it flowed far better than any Devil May Cry game.

This was such a betrayal, I sold all my old Devil May Cry games, because every time I look at them, I see the mark of betrayal Capcom has put on me. Can I say all Capcom games now suck? No, I can’t, because I haven’t personally played them. However, I still refuse to support Capcom after they killed one of my favorite series of all time. I grew up with Dante in high school, from games my friend gave to me for free, and to have that broken in front of me was nothing short of heartbreaking.

If you don’t feel that way, I won’t encourage my words to make you hate this game. Enjoy DmC and Dino if you want. This act has killed all faith I had in Capcom.


About The Smartest Moron

I am a college graduate of Temple University, majoring in Media Studies and Production. While hunting for jobs, I also do a review series on YouTube where I analyze stories/characters called The Smartest Moron.
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2 Responses to Are Stories More Important Than Gameplay in a Video Game?

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