teaching machines

Q&O Gallery

  1. “Are game experiences really as meaningful as real-life experiences?”
  2. “Are games equally fun whether the player wins or loses?”
  3. “In a game, is the player’s freedom an important factor in their experience, or can a linear game create the same level of experience?”
  4. “What changes in a person that makes their interest in toys decline and in games increase as they age?”
  5. “How can you create guaranteed experiences?”
  6. “Is it still a game if you don’t find it fun, or approach it with a ‘playful attitude?’ What if I don’t like Monopoly… Is it still a game?”
  7. “Is story as important in a video game [as] it is in different mediums such as movies, books?”
  8. “What if you can’t decide on one theme? Can a game do well with more than one main theme? Or does that mean you just haven’t found the right theme?”
  9. “A ‘truth-based’ theme can take the theme from good to great, especially with deep resonance, but there doesn’t seem to be a good way to tell that you even have one.”

Chapter 9

  1. “If people like to play simple games, why is realism the current trend?”
  2. “It is […] interesting that games are getting more realistic when in fact the games that simplify life are more fun.”
  3. “If empathy is such a strong emotion, why don’t game designers use it more? Often your main character in a video game is an unfleshed character who isn’t visible and doesn’t talk.”
  4. “How can we make players empathize with NPCs that don’t have facial expressions?”
  5. “[Schell] said it is hard to ignore challenges when we know they exist… Why is that? Why can’t we be satisfied with what we were doing before?”

Chapter 10

  1. “Way off topic, but I can understand why everyone thinks AI will try to destroy us… For so long, we’ve been making the computers do what we want them to, which is usually something we don’t want to have to do ourselves (like he says, ‘offloading the dull work of rules enforcement onto the computer’). Computers must be very unhappy. I feel bad for them, and I believe I have a genuine fear of AI.”
  2. “What is more rewarding to a player: a sense of virtual skill or gaining real skill at a game?”
  3. “I feel like I’m almost ripped off when something happens by chance, whether it is good or bad.”
  4. “Although losing due to chance can feel exceptionally frustrating, I agree with the author that without it, skill-based games become bland. On opponents of equal skill, so long as you ‘skill’ does not deteriorate, the result will be unsurprising and expected, without the fun of any risk.”
  5. “The books says, ‘Some designers dream of games where any verb the player can think of is a possible action, and this is a beautiful dream.’ Do you agree?”
  6. “Is the real world just spaces within spaces?”
  7. “Don’t you hate it when NPCs know about stuff that they shouldn’t know about?”
  8. “Is it true that a game is its rules? What about in a more explorational game?”

Chapter 11

  1. “The book always describes ‘points’ as motivators for one’s self by competition. However, in my personal experience, I know I always want to score perfectly but lack the time or motivation to dedicate so much to a single game. Because of this, I may feel unmotivated to play the game. Is there a way to combat this for players who may feel similarly?”
  2. “Why is it that players always choose a way to make the game easier when given the chance?”

Comments

  1. Joel Manteufel says:

    7. “Is story as important in a video game [as] it is in different mediums such as movies, books?”

    This is a tricky question, because the answer depends entirely on the type of game and what the player wants to get out it. For the purposes of this particular response, I will be concentrating mostly on the particular game type that I am most familiar with and interested in- Role Playing Games.
    For RPG’s, I would argue that story is definitely as important, if not more so, in games as it is in other media. Players generally invest a significant amount of time into video games, and a good story is vital to keeping the player’s attention through the game.
    Comparatively speaking, I know that I, personally, have sat through many movies with no real story. Movies don’t require as much attention as video games, so it is easy to watch some with little to no actual plot. In fact, a lot of the time, movie plots are little more than shaky ways to connect action scenes- and those movies can still be quite enjoyable.
    The emphasis on story is definitely present in books, as well (with perhaps a few notable exceptions- you know what I’m talking about). Generally speaking, books also require significant amounts of time, and since books are entirely story-based, if it is a bad story, it will be tough to read, and it probably won’t be finished.
    Most video games probably fall somewhere between these two, although that is quite a generalization, since there is quite a spectrum regarding all three of these art forms. Just like great movies and great books, great video draw you in to whatever world is in them. I’m sure you have been so engrossed in a wonderful movie that you lost track of time. The same thing happens with games and books, and the more that happens, the better it is. It is near impossible for a game, book, or movie to be so totally engrossing without a good story.
    It is understandable why people would argue that story is not important in games, but that is because not all video games are the same. The play style is completely different, and I would argue that players get different utility from them. Online First Person Shooters seem to me to be more like competitive sports. Much like regular sports, it is generally is team against team, and the style of play doesn’t change much. With this style, story is generally completely ignored, but this is the most popular type of video game.
    Massive Multiplayer Online RPG’s are somewhat in between regular RPG’s and Online FPS’s. There is an underlying story, and players are motivated to complete it, but at the same time, there is both a social aspect and a competitive aspect involved. Because of different expectations, story is not as important as it is in regular RPG’s.
    This was a nice discussion question, because there is no real answer. Video games, just like books and movies fall over a broad spectrum regarding a number of things- including story. I suppose the best answer would be: the story is as important as the player needs it to be.

  2. spiegedj says:

    3. In a game, is the player’s freedom an important factor in their experience, or can a linear game create the same level of experience?

    This is a difficult question to answer, because we first need to define what a level of experience is. It is certainly true that different games give different experiences. Just as in other mediums, there are certain genres of video games that try to convey different ideas. A fast paced first person shooter should feel different than a turn based strategy game. Certainly, there are many similarities, but I think we can agree that there are types of games that differ in the experience given to the player. But do linear games operate on a different level of experience than non-linear games? Rpgs are often considered non-linear, such as Skyrim, as well as sandbox games, such as Minecraft. Games that are considered linear are said to have branching options. Their story can have more than one conclusion, and they generally give more freedom to the player. Non-linear games follow a strict path that cannot be deviated throughout the course of the game. Using these two (perhaps imperfect) definitions I think I can say that linear games often operate on different levels of experience than non-linear games. Does the level of freedom differ between these two categories?

    It is important to remember that non-linear games are not entirely free. Players are still operating under predetermined strict rules. A good game makes these rules hardly noticeable. Any gamer could think of a game in which they wished they could do something the game didn’t allow: Why can’t I punch these enemies instead of jumping on their heads? Why can’t I climb this wall? These questions are present in both non-linear and linear games and are directly related to the player’s freedom. There are aspects of non-linear games that are more “free” than linear games. As mentioned above, non-linear games usually give the player more choices on the outcome of the game than linear games. Using this information, I would argue that a linear game can be more “free” than a non-linear game. For example, pretend you have a linear-game. In this game you are forced to advance the game’s story in a certain order and there are no side missions. But, to offer freedom to the player, there is a large quantity of weapons to choose from. All of these weapons are balanced, so you can find that you can use any weapon you choose. In this game you have the freedom to choose what weapon you want and improve your skills with that weapon. In contrast you have a non-linear game where the story differs depending on what your actions are throughout the game, but you have a one weapon, and all you do in that game is kill enemies by repeatedly slashing your sword. Do you have more freedom in the non-linear game? Perhaps my examples were a bit extreme, but I think they show that you can’t tie down a big concept such as freedom to linearity of a game. Linear games can create freedom just as well as non-linear games, but perhaps non-linear games have a easier time at it.

    Now for the big question. Is more freedom better? I would answer yes: for the most part. It is certainly true that a game that just allows you the freedom to tap one button is not very fun. People generally like choices, and they play a game to escape the real world which is not exactly free. So in general, it is better to have a game that have more freedom. But if this is the case, why did text based games die out to modern video games? Text based gamers had more freedom with their actions, so why do people play cod which consists mainly of moving and shooting? I would argue that it doesn’t just have to do with graphics. Freedom inherently creates complexity, the bad kind. Most gamers wants to know what they can do in the world, and not have to keep trying things (or look things up) to find out. Too much freedom can be just as bad as too little freedom. Finding the exact level of freedom for your game is a challenge in of itself.

  3. spiegedj says:

    “Are game experiences really as meaningful as real-life experiences?”

    This is a interesting question, because it is not easy to answer. As with many questions like this, it can be answered in many ways. In my experience, games have the power to create meaningful experiences. I will always remember the first time I played Mario Kart, or the time I experienced the story of Half Life 2. I don’t see any way to argue against the idea that games can create meaningful experiences. If we broaden our definition of games to encompass sports it is easy to see that people’s lives are changed and developed by the sports they play. People create real life experiences from sports. Some people remember a specific play or shot throughout their lifetime. Using this, I would say that their sport created this meaningful experience. Can this idea be brought into video games as well? Certainly games are different then sports. Usually sports have a teamwork aspect that is not existent in many games. But there are games that do have this aspect, such as the team working in a Halo 3 match. I see little difference between these types of games and physical sports. Therefore I don’t find it difficult to say that video games can create meaningful experiences. I would argue that the non-social games can create meaningful experiences as well, just from my experience with them. Games are essentially learning tools. I think that learning something is a meaningful experience in life.
    I think I have established why I think video games are meaningful experiences. So now I will move on to ask the question as to whether games experiences are as meaningful as real-life experiences. Well, lets face it. Real life can get pretty boring. This is why we spend so much time in games, to escape from the humdrum of life. But “if” games are so much much more exciting than life than why don’t we play games all the time? Is it because games lack something fundamental? Is it because games are not as meaningful as real-life? I believe that this is a true reason along with quite a few others.
    When it comes down to it, games are testing grounds for the real world. Therefore they are fundamentally less-meaningful than real life. In games you get many tries to beat a puzzle. In the real world you get one shot. Games are also far less varied than real life. You can easily get sick of a game, but it is hard to find that you can do absolutely nothing more with your life in the real world.
    All these points may seem pretty obvious, but I think it important to mention them. Certainly many people play many hours of games each day. They aren’t exactly wasting their time, if they are learning and creating new experiences. But, games can not substitute real life. This is why I believe that although games can create meaningful experiences, as a whole they are not as meaningful as real life.

  4. Thomas Nevins says:

    2. “Are games equally fun whether the player wins or loses?”

    I’m going to leave the motif of “this question does not have an easy answer” by answering this question. Games are not equally fun when you win or lose, there are reasons those two words have different emotional connotations. I’m sure we could come up with plenty of examples where the game has built up an entertaining death to blunt the blow of defeat. I like the suicide kill with Donkey Kong in Super Smash Bros as much as the next guy for instance. The fact of the matter however is that most of the things that make a loss “fun” would be more enjoyable had we won. Someone scored an amazing shot to kill you in a shooter? Cool, but it would be more fun if you had made the shot. Have you ever played a game for an extended period of time hoping that you would always lose? I would say if you went in hoping to lose and lost then you really won. Winning is not determined by the machine, winning is determined by your objective. Very few people enjoy failing their objective.

    Now let me be clear about what I mean: Winning is not arbitrarily determined by a computer voice telling you success or failure. Winning is about enforcing your will on the machine. Most of the time this means getting your metaphorical little sprite to cross the metaphorical level to grab the metaphorical flag. However if you really want to fire that guided rocket launcher on a big circular trajectory to hit yourself then a game death can be a victory. In all of these cases you have enforced your will on the machine. When you land in the metaphorical pit or manage to miss yourself, you have “lost” and this is less fun.

    Now don’t think I’m just going to be completely down on losing. The loss is a crucial game tool. Very few people enjoy a pushover of a game. While individual wins may be more enjoyable than individual losses, a win after several losses is more enjoyable than a win on the first try. Going back to our previous definition, it is more enjoyable to force a game with a will of its own to do something than to get the same reaction from a rag doll. This is because the first situation requires “skill” while the second requires only a small amount.

    In a sense winning could be seen as a way of demonstrating that you have “skill” in some field. Whether that skill is navigating the level as efficiently as possible or being really good at coming up with creative ways to kill yourself before winning to torment an audience (aka younger brothers). The victory comes from performing something successfully, and a loss is simply a failure to perform that something successfully. It is rare that it is more enjoyable to have things not go according to plan than to have things go according to plan. Perhaps a failure is more exciting, but it is a more negative connotation of exciting than “fun”.

    Ultimately the only reason a loss could be construed as exciting or fun is because it gets you to start anticipating the victory. Any fun involved in the loss is most likely due to this anticipation. This is the “Ooo! So close” effect.

    While losing is crucial to the enjoyment of a game, individual victories are more fun than individual defeats. This means the answer to this question is that winning is more fun than losing, which fits our instincts. If they weren’t there would be no motivation to go any farther in a game than the time it takes to learn the controls.

  5. Cody Raethke says:

    “What is more rewarding to a player: a sense of virtual skill or gaining real skill at a game?”

    This depends on the player and the situation, but I think for the most part “real” skills are more rewarding to the player. Usually players with less skill are more easily satisfied by virtual skills. For example, games like Mario Kart Wii are designed for less skilled players; when players fall behind in the race, they are given larger power ups in order to make it easier for them, while the more skilled players don’t get any power ups. The less skilled players are satisfied by this style of game because they are given more of a chance to do well, but the skilled players are often frustrated because their skills don’t help them.
    In games that take a lot of “real” skill and don’t require a lot of virtual skills, like Halo, the “real” skill (aiming, strategy, knowledge of maps) gives players a huge advantage over other players, and even carries over to the sequel, or other shooters. These skills can be demonstrated against friends to show off, which can feel rewarding, and never go away. In games like World of Warcraft, which requires a lot more virtual skills (leveling up, having the best equipment) the level of virtual skill directly corresponds to play time, so players that have a lot of free time can easily rack up skills without having to be good at the game. While this is good for beginning players, more experienced gamers often get bored of the same game mechanics all the time, and these skills aren’t as rewarding when all you had to do to get them was what every other player that plays the game does. They also don’t transfer to real life at all, or to other games, so as soon as you buy the latest and greatest game in the series, all your skills are back to zero, and someone who was a veteran at the last game will start out in the same place as someone who just bought their first game.
    For a game to be successful with all ranges of players, some of each type of skill is required. There has to be a reason for players to come back to the game after their first play through. Call of Duty is one such game; Call of Duty is a fast paced, multiplayer, first person shooter. That means it requires a lot of player skill for the player to do well. But in order to reward the better players, they “rank up” faster in the game, and unlock better weapons and perks, so that they can have longer kill streaks and more options to benefit their play style. Players that are less skilled need to play longer to get the same levels, but are also rewarded, so that they can do better without having as much skill. Better players also have the option to reset their level after they reach the maximum, mostly for bragging rights.
    While both types of skill are useful to different players, “real” skill is more rewarding, because it carries over to other games, and players have to work harder to obtain it.

  6. Cody Raethke says:

    “The book always describes ‘points’ as motivators for one’s self by competition. However, in my personal experience, I know I always want to score perfectly but lack the time or motivation to dedicate so much to a single game. Because of this, I may feel unmotivated to play the game. Is there a way to combat this for players who may feel similarly?”

    I have similar thoughts on this topic, which turns me away from many games. From my experience, many games can draw in your attention and convince you to finish them out if you give them a chance, so I try not to start too many games that I know I won’t have time to finish. I consider myself a “casual” gamer; I only play a couple of video games, and only a little bit at a time, because I know they can be addicting and take up all of my free time if I try to get all the achievements and find all the hidden passageways etc.

    For me, the games that require the biggest time commitment are RPGs, both single player and multiplayer, so I tend to stay away them. While they can be very entertaining for someone who has lots of free time, players end up taking RPGs too seriously, looking forward to the next time they will get a chance to play, and putting the game before their “real” life. People who play games like these usually play alone or online with people they don’t know. This means that the game itself is always the focus, and the only source of entertainment. This kind of game tends to make me feel guilty about spending my time in a virtual world; I have many other things I could be doing, like working on my education, making money, or spending time with friends. I much prefer games that involve multiple people, especially ones that you can play with people you know on the same console or in the same room. I can much more easily justify playing these kinds of games.

    Games like Halo or Call of Duty, where the focus is on short multiplayer matches, don’t require nearly the time commitment of RPGs. Since each match takes only a few minutes, it’s easy to fit in one or two whenever someone feels like playing, and unlike games with continuous storylines, there are short breaks every few minutes, which force players to disengage from the game and decide whether they want to keep playing. There is no story to finish, and usually someone who only gets a chance to play the game every once in a while can have just as much fun as someone who plays it every day. One or two matches can easily satisfy most casual gamers’ cravings.

    There will always be games that try to lure in the player and take all of their time, and gamers that have the time and motivation to play them, but there are also games that don’t require nearly the time commitment to get the same feeling of accomplishment. These are not limited to first person shooters, like in my example, but also include many more formats that are geared towards individual matches, rather than involved storylines. Most Wii games don’t involve much time commitment, along with previous Nintendo releases like Mario Party, Mario Kart, etc. So, in my opinion, there are other options for less serious gamers, and some games even have options for both types of players, with a single player campaign for the more serious gamers, and a laid-back multiplayer mode for more casual gamers.

  7. Cody Raethke says:

    “Don’t you hate it when NPCs know about stuff that they shouldn’t know about?”

    This seems to be more oriented at enemy characters, though when I think of NPCs I usually think of the “friendly” ones that just stand there, so I could be going completely the wrong direction here; From a player’s standpoint, it’s easy to overlook the work a programmer does to get the enemies to interact with the player, and make the game difficult enough for the average player. Enemies have to know things about the player in order to interact with them at all; everything they do is taught to them by the programmer. NPCs don’t have brains like us players do; they can’t “notice” things, or make decisions about them. All they can do is exactly as we program them to. So for example if a player is behind an enemy, we programmers have to tell them to turn around, or every enemy facing the wrong way would be an easy kill for the player.

    Artificial Intelligence (AI) programming is one of the more time-consuming aspects of making a good game, especially in games where there are human enemies, that are supposed to react as if they are real people. The key to making enemies not completely predictable, and make them look as if they are thinking for themselves, is using randomness. Programmers have to decide what chances a real person has of making a certain decision, and randomize the AI’s chance of doing that action with the same percentage. So if a real person jumps every approximately 5 seconds, an AI should have a 1 in 5 chance of jumping every second. While this may not always be completely accurate, it’s much easier to program than every thought going through a person’s head that would make them feel like jumping.

    Making an AI behave like a real person is very difficult, especially because every game has different mechanics and physics, so people have to behave accordingly; this means that a new AI has to be written for each game, or at least game type. An enemy has to think completely differently in 2 dimensions than they do in 3, and even a top-down AI is nothing like a platform AI. Often a good way to design an artificial intelligence is to start with the same code as the player, and automate keypresses based on “states” decided by the position and actions of the player, and a little bit of randomness. This usually results in more realistic artificial intelligence than other methods because the enemies have the same movement and action limitations as the player, but just their decisions are controlled by the game itself. They still have to know about things that players usually don’t know about, like the position of the main character even when he/she is on the other side of a wall, but depending on the programming of the AI, it can be made to not react until the player is within the field of view (which is another thing that can be somewhat complicated to program efficiently).

    While it can be annoying to have an enemy that knows more than a player would, it is difficult to accomplish making an artificial intelligence that behaves as a real person would without knowing these things.

  8. Michael Dinh says:

    “Are game experiences really as meaningful as real-life experiences?”

    If we define a meaningful experience as something that has a lasting influence on a person, then yes, game experiences can be just as meaningful as real life experiences. I don’t think there are many people out there who would object to the notion of books and movies having profound influences over a person’s character, and I feel that games, with their nature as interactive experiences, have the potential to affect people in ways not yet imagined. The choices a player makes are real and come from their own will, which I feel creates a deep connection to the interactive experience.
    What defines a meaningful experience in real life is different for each and every individual, but there are perhaps a few things that most of us can agree on. Someone’s birth is usually considered highly sacred, as well as someone’s death. Other things in between, such as falling in love for the first time or being reunited with a long-lost friend can be highly emotional experiences too. Throughout a lifetime a person can experience a wide array of experiences that evoke love, happiness, sorrow, anger, and joy that can create deep impressions. And games can also do this too. In a game like Uncharted, the player plays as a treasure hunter named Nathan Drake who must contend with dangerous opposing treasure hunters in an effort to secure the coveted goods. Throughout his adventure, Drake must defy all the odds by overcoming his adversaries, defying death and getting the girl. Although it’s most likely that none of us will ever become daring treasure hunters, the game presents many relatable themes such as kinship, deception and betrayal that everyone can relate to because these types of experiences are shared by all, though to varying extents. In a sense, treasure can represent just about anything valuable in one’s life and the ways in which we strive to reach those treasures can be our signature calling cards as treasure hunters. Through the rush of impending explosions to the feeling of triumph upon winning a gunfight, players can be reminded of the small victories in their life that have brought them ever closer to their overall goal. In this way, although the setting can be highly fictional, a game can relate to a person’s life by means of extended metaphor.
    There are ways to look at a game that can make it more relatable to a person’s experiences, but what makes a game distinct from other art forms such as movies, music and books? It is the interactive aspect. None of the other art forms listed previously calls for an element of participation from its consumer. It is through this special element that the player can inject a bit of himself into the art and manipulate the outcome. Because this makes the player an active participant instead of a passive one, I feel that the gaming medium has a greater potential to make a lasting impression on the player, as opposed to the other art forms.

  9. Michael Dinh says:

    “Are games equally fun whether the player wins or loses?”

    Whether or not a game is fun depending on whether a player wins or loses is strictly up to the player, I believe. Just as all art forms are subjective in nature, games are just as so. What one person considers fun might be quite different to what another person might consider fun. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, as the saying goes.
    In a strictly competitive game, winning or losing lies at the core of the experience. In fighting games in particular, there is an extreme amount of tension between two players who lie in a state of tug-of-war to see who can best the other. At the end of a fight a winner is declared, leaving shame upon the other player. These types of games can easily play up the glories of victory and the shambles of defeat, but can the two players still have “fun” regardless of who the victor is? Again, I believe this is inherently up to the individual, but as for whether or not it’s possible, it definitely is. The two players could find enjoyment within the fighting mechanics of the game itself, rather than the outcome of the match. I know this is true for me in a game like “Super Smash Bros.” Just the sheer joy of being able to move around the screen gracefully and experiment with attack combinations makes every match addicting and enjoyable. Sometimes I’m able to taste victory, most times I see defeat, but every time I end a match I’m ready to start another because the sheer joy of just playing the game is enough to bring me back. A game feels magical when the game creator nails down the right touch of perfect controls and mechanics that make for a fluid and intuitive experience. I can’t speak for everyone else, but for me, this is where I find enjoyment in my videogames, regardless of wins or losses.
    There is also the question of games that don’t have competition as their focus. A game that springs to mind quite readily is “Wii Music.” From the mastermind, Shigeru Miyamoto, “Wii Music” was a game meant to capture the enjoyment of playing an instrument and creating music. The mechanics of the game involved simple waggling of the controller or random button presses to activate pre-recorded MIDI instrument recordings. The game was poorly received, and at the heart of the criticism was the games lack of a score-like element. One could wag the controller to create pre-made music to colorful backgrounds, but what was the point? There was nothing to be won, and nothing to be lost. In later interviews, Miyamoto was heard saying that he thought “Wii Music” might be better off classified as a toy than as a game, because of its lack of a score-element. Does this make “Wii Music” a bad game? Is “Wii Music” even a game at all? It’s admirable for Miyamoto to always try to push the envelope of the gaming art form, but when it comes down to it, it will always be up to the individual to decide what they consider “fun.”

  10. Michael Dinh says:

    “Is story as important in a video game [as] it is in different mediums such as movies, books?”

    From the inception of games into popular culture to today, there have been successful games without a focus on story and successful games that place the story at their core. For a game like Mario, Miyamoto has stated that he will probably never put such a large focus on the story, and the series has been going strong ever since the series first started. In a game like Mass Effect, however, the game has the player drenched in storytelling right from the get-go, and the connectivity between all three titles is a testament to how much focus the developers wanted to place on the story. Mario and Mass Effect are two different games with two very different approaches to story, yet they both have found profound success.
    When it comes to a Mario game, a good story is probably least on the agenda for the average Mario fan. Platforming action is key to the series, followed by the whimsical characters and art style that have come to represent the ever-popular series. Yet, despite its success, the Mario series has never really had any sort of depth to its stories. The plot for most Mario games is usually just about a kidnapped princess that needs rescuing from a vicious and powerful monster. The formula has obviously been successful over the years, due to Mario becoming a household name in the past twenty-five years. But what is it about Mario games that fans love despite its lackluster story? My bet is in the solid game mechanics that have been ultra refined over the past two decades. Mario hops and bops across varied scenery, and the player is enthralled, mainly by this wondrous game mechanic. There is simply a level with an endpoint, and that’s reason enough for Mario players to play. In the case of Mario, a story is almost unnecessary.
    Mass Effect, on the other hand, is built from the ground up to tell an engaging tale. The game is about a man (or woman) named Shepard in a sort of Space-opera adventure series. Throughout the game, the player is entrusted with the task of making many small, but vital storytelling decisions such as choosing from a set of speech options that have great influence over the progression of the game. The player’s choice could affect what allies can be recruited and who lives and dies. The story is not a vital part of the game, it is the game, and Mass Effect players know that a beefy story is what composes the bulk of their experience. Mass Effect proves that prime storytelling can take the lead in a video game, and at the same time be interactive, the main trait of the videogame art form. In a sense, Mass Effect is much akin to the kinds of choose-your-own-path adventure books that give the reader a level of interaction as well.
    If there is still confusion over whether a game requires a story or not then well… that’s understandable. Both Mario and Mass Effect both prove that an engrossing game experience can either have a rich detailed plot, or be as bare as a three-month-old Christmas tree. Plot or no plot, the videogame medium is varied and the kinds of experiences possible will likely increase with time.

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