It is well known that aspiring or practicing writers need to be inspired by literature in order to write successfully. Whether it's classics or stories from modern writers, you need to take the time to read. Stephen King said, "If you don't have time to read, you don't have time to write, it's that simple." But what if there is some other form of medium that you can get creative inspiration from?
Video games shouldn't initially contain the elements of a story until of course the introduction of role-playing games. The RPG genre was a big game changer in the gaming industry, bringing elements of storytelling into video games. And with storytelling come the elements of character formation, the world situation and the action devices. All of these are foundations for a creative writer's journey.
Personally, I never enjoyed reading books at a young age, but I like video games. I spent my childhood playing video games and never thought it would help me get into the writing industry. Who would have thought that the hours in front of the PlayStation would add to my creativity and a puzzle game like Wordscapes could give me the extra juice I need to write? If you still find this puzzling, let me tell you the story of how video games helped improve my skills as a creative writer and storyteller.
An introduction to character building:
Every good story needs great characters. Living, breathing and unique characters taking a journey into the imaginary world you created for your story. Often the struggle lies in describing these characters as you create them through writing.
Video games, especially role-playing games like Code Vein or Dragon Age, offer you the opportunity to create your own character before starting your adventure in the game world. This was my first Introduction to character formation. The visual aid provided by a game's character creation tool served as a guide to describe my character in writing. Bioware's Dragon Age went as far as customizing your avatar's personality and how that chosen personality would affect your interaction with the non-playable characters in the game. If you have an aggressive personality, you will end up causing more problems instead of solving them with a diplomatic personality.
Video games are a great way to test how the character you envisioned in your head is interacting with those around you, and to experiment with the narrative that if that person were to really communicate with the world, what would the result be?
An inspiration for telling compelling stories:
By the time you finally let your character step into the world of an RPG, whether you're supposed to be a hero saving the world or just a salary man who accidentally gets caught up in an ongoing conflict, you'll already have a story unraveling before you. And as you explore further in your adventure, you will find that you accept more than what you expected.
In storytelling, you need to first set the lines and that means setting up the world your character is in, introducing the ongoing conflict, and how your character plays a role in that conflict and ultimately comes to its conclusion. If you play video games, you can experience these thoughts firsthand as you control the main protagonist and travel through the levels to the final boss.
The science fiction action RPG game The Surge is a great example of simple yet compelling storytelling. The main protagonist Warren, a cripple who wants a purpose in life with the help of technology, and a mega-corporation, was suddenly thrown into a world full of metal waste and crazy cyborgs. Then, as you try to escape your fatal fate, you will soon find that the company you work for has dark secrets that could affect the whole world.
The storytelling elements evoked by such games can give you a glimpse into the creative process the author went through. You can then apply the same elements to your original story that can help make you a better writer.
A great way to stimulate your mind before writing a story:
We talked about how video games can help you develop your creativity as a writer. But what about the physical, or should I say the mental effects of actually playing video games? For every task there is a suitable tool for the job, they say. And one of my problems as a writer is starting to write. I usually need to stimulate my mind a little to get the creative juices flowing, and one of my pre-writing rituals is playing Wordscapes. In short, it's a spelling game. It increases your knowledge as you learn new words to expand your vocabulary.
Word games are great mental exercises if you have the same problem of needing stimulation before you start writing. A few crossword puzzles might get you the jerk it takes to get the words flowing through your head into your paper. What good is all that creativity if you can't find the right words to tell your story?
People may not believe that video games can play any role other than entertainment, but by integrating with other creative elements like storytelling, educators around the world are already looking at games as a form of Teaching aids that can help develop our future generations. However, if you still aren't convinced how a video game can improve a writer's skills, you can try to experience it firsthand. Borrow one from a friend or buy one while on sale. Only then will you witness the magic behind a game's story.
Jonathan J Kingston is a video game enthusiast, gamer, and veteran video game news writer for Games.lol. In his spare time, he looks for free game sites and tests their reliability.