Does a game’s narrative always need to be presented?

We play games for many reasons. To have a ready-steady shoot-em-up time, to watch over-the-top explosion filled action set-pieces, to have an emotional ride through the struggle of the human condition, to have a few minutes of escape from our current reality in a world completely disjoint from our own. You start up a game (can we really not say “pop-in a game” anymore? Is that obsolete?) and you go in looking for that game to fulfill some criteria for you. Sometimes that criteria is already known. You’re in the mood for a mindless bullet-feast or you’re looking to strum your plastic guitar to some Beetles music or whatever. Sometimes that criteria is unbeknownst to you, so you walk into a game blindly and hopefully some aspect of the game is worthwhile. But does this mean all parts of the game need to be there for you to enjoy it? Are your priorities always the same when you start up a game?

I ask this because of games like the Dark Souls/Bloodborne series approach to how it deals with story, mainly which isn’t really presented to you. The story is present but not presented to the player. The player can read descriptions and text to figure out all that’s going on but they aren’t given a mandatory lecture of the game and its world. The player isn’t even given a synopsis. But is that a problem?


Continue reading “Presented Narratives vs Present Narratives”