Interactive storytelling – What can we learn from computer games?

Written by Ben Rogers

video games

For as long as I remember, I’ve always been an avid gamer. Even before my parents were kind enough to buy me my first Sega Mega Drive some 20 years ago, I would spend hours playing at a friend’s house collecting rings as Sonic the Hedgehog, or exploring the sea as Echo the Dolphin.

Many see gaming as a “phase” people will grow out of, but I’m almost 27 and I probably love gaming now more than I ever have and there’s a simple reason for that – computer games are one of the most immersive storytelling methods out there. From the moment your game of choice powers up, to the final cut scene upon completion, a great game will captivate the player and likely stick with them forever. The same can be said for the perfect PR campaign – regardless of how the message gets across, a strong story will always prove memorable.

So what makes computer gaming such a strong form of storytelling? In modern video games, the player is directly responsible for the path the narrative takes, so gamers are actually writing stories themselves every time they play. So, even if like me you’re playing as Batman gliding through Gotham or a criminal mastermind in Grand Theft Auto V more often than not, you can’t help but become engrossed in the plot.

As video game technology continues to evolve, the opportunity for the PR industry to adopt these storytelling techniques will continue to grow. Virtual reality (VR) headsets offer businesses the opportunity to wow their target audience, with support from storytelling experts. For example, there is the possibility to create an interactive VR story showcasing exactly how a business has helped transform its customer’s fortune. By placing people in the footsteps of those who have already profited from a service, the message will be much more memorable than a corporate brochure could ever be.

It’s vital the PR industry continuously questions the most effective ways to tell stories for their clients and the technology and techniques found in video games clearly have a place in the future of storytelling. It is down to the industry to decide exactly how to use this to complement traditional storytelling methods to generate the best results for clients.