Story or Gameplay?

  • Do you value story or gameplay more in a videogame? I prefer gameplay because it's what makes videogames unique from all other mediums and artforms.

  • I could post the old Carmack quote and leave it at that, but I mean if your game has good gameplay it doesn't really need a story, nevermind a good one. There's no story worth slogging through bad gameplay for. If I can watch a stream or a let's play of a game and feel like I got all that game had going for it out of the video alone then I consider that a failure.

  • Honestly depends on what I'm looking for from a game, and also what the developer's intentions are with said game.
    If a game has good gameplay, it can generally survive on that, though a good story can help elevate it to greatness. Take Nier Automata as an example. The core is there, but everything surrounding it helps make it more than the sum of it's parts.
    That isn't to say I can't enjoy an incredible story if the gameplay isn't exactly there. Detroit Become Human is largely automatic in it's gameplay, but the narrative of the game is the gameplay. Making choices that vastly effects the narrative is the core of the game, and so I don't necessarily mind that often times the gameplay is nothing more than selecting a choice or pressing a button when it pops up on screen.

    One could argue that the majority of JRPGs amount to nothing more than making selecting an attack and watching an animation, but the learning the story and becoming invested in the journey of the characters is the driving force. Final Fantasy 6 is one of my favorite games of all time, despite you really not doing more more than pressing a few buttons to select attacks and read dialog boxes.
    Hell, I know some people who will forsake terrible gameplay and incredibly poor storytelling for nothing more than pandering and fanservice.

    So yeah, really depends on what you find important, and what the game and its creators were going for.

  • Gameplay. I can say that confidently. I'm assuming I'm supposed to treat this as a binary question (ignoring other elements besides these two) and that giving one answer does not discount that sometimes in some situations the other one is valued more.

    The question can be hard to answer. If you stop and imagine some games as reference points, you can feel lost with how all the parts contribute to what you value. Especially at the extremes. That is, it is easy to imagine examples how one or the other being really good or really bad will overwhelm the experience. So here's how I setup the question to make it more answerable: if I imagine playing a game whose gameplay and story are both of average quality (among, say, the general population of games that I've sought out and played), which quality ultimately contributed more to my play satisfaction?

    For most games I play, the gameplay occupies more of the time spent and it is the greater (but not sole) contributor to my personal motivation or "reward seeking feeling" to resume playing that game in a future session. In some games though, I would say that story -- or more specifically characters that I like hearing/seeing/roleplaying and settings that I find alluring to inhabit -- can be greater.

    Just to give story another nod, there's also the rare games which provide memorable emotional experiences, the majority of which are story related and not gameplay related. Gameplay moments can be emotional in their own way -- the tension when facing dire straights comes to mind, or perhaps the euphoria of mastering a challenge that requires a very lengthly process -- but these are less common. Even moreso when considering just the very top such experiences.

    Perhaps a simpler way to think about it is to ask, when there's a new game trailer or announcement or review what do you find yourself mentally looking for about the game? I frequently find my brain trying to judge what the genre is and whether I'm expecting it to feel stale after a while. So this is very much on the "gameplay" side of the equation. The game's story (and especially characters+setting) certainly has an impact, but I find myself less frequently trying to critically evaluate it.

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  • I think many will say that they appreciate both and that it depends what they are looking for at that given time.

    There are many games that push a good balance between gameplay and story, but there has been a steady decline when it comes to pulling this off recently. Wrpg's and shooteres have been dumbing themselves down further and further since the early 2000's

    I've seen quite a few people turn a blind eye to horrendous characters, plot and gameplay as long as it's a well advertised and popular project, they just wont care though.

  • I can say that stories take my attention more than gameplays mostly. I look at games as interactive stories, so as long as gameplay isn't something really fun/satisfying, I usually see it as a device more than a purpose.

  • In a good game, they're the same thing.

  • @ringedwithtile Super deep thought. Care to expand?

  • @e_zed_eh_intern haha I can't tell if you're being facetious, but I'll elaborate or ramble a bit:

    It's a common question that's relevant to basically any artistic medium: form and content (gameplay being form, story being content). I don't think 'story' is really the right stand-in for content since there are a lot of games that don't have any story and are just designed gameplay loops, but perhaps that's just a symptom of video games starting as an abstract art and becoming representative over time.

    My point is that story and gameplay, should a game have both, are inseparably linked. Form is content and vice versa. Even the most rudimentary arcade game builds drama through its interaction with a player, and uses symbols/story logic to make its gameplay legible and points to indicate dramatic significance. A virtual novel's story's progression is entirely at the behest of the person reading it, even if there isn't any 'gameplay' or even any choices in story progression.

    Now, I do like games that are abstract. Ones that have no story to speak of. I love Tetris, I love Super Hexagon. Their symbols are meaningless, meaning no associative or implied stories can be formed. But like music, there's still drama to these. Beating the hardest level of Super Hexagon was still dramatic---probably more dramatic than other abstract art given my inputs are part of the visual feedback. Like other abstract art, there was still meaning and feeling to be drawn from it that was deeper than just overcoming the challenge of ingesting it. I guess if I had to propose a form/content dichotomy for games it would more about design/meaning instead of gameplay/story. It's broader, includes games with minimal story (keeping people from mistaking story for plot) and allows for internalized rather than solely external conversation.

    I guess it's easy to say I'm being pedantic about all of this, but I think that gameplay vs story is a lot more unspecific than it sounds because A LOT of what I like about one is also the other, and games that I think are great kind of use both at the same time, or in unconventional ways. Having a button committed to holding Yorda's hand in ICO is entirely dramatic despite being purely mechanical. Just like pressing a button to pull a trigger without a prompt at the end of Gungrave or MGS3, which you've probably done hundreds of times in the hours before, puts a mechanical strain on what is an instance of pure story. These things are bigger than their games, they tell us things about life or ourselves just by having a single button to press---the perfect unity of significance in video gaming.