We play games for the story. Win or lose, we love telling stories to each other about the events that happened, the victories won, the ones who got away, the times we may have gotten beat down and things like that. I still know stories of interesting sessions where it was like watching a high roller in a casino in one of those movies, the dice roll, spinning, spinning, as time slows down and you’re waiting to see the crucial seconds of what number does it stop on before the cheers or weeping begins.
What makes stories is the choices made. Game Theory talks about various decision making examples, like the Prisoner’s Dilemma. These choices can be interesting, like mentioned on this article at Gnome Stew. There can be a lot of great information gained by studying the details of decision making, but what about making the decisions actually mean something? Even thought it says so in the intro I doubt Freakazoid wouldn’t rescue Washington D.C. if something better was on TV. Players generally won’t turn down a plot hook when presented to them, and some will try to min-max them all, so what you usually want to do is give them choices that they can’t just solve at their leisure. Dead Rising is one of the first games I remember with time sensitive plot points rather than ‘Do these at your leisure’, and it required the player to strategically decide what they wanted to do and when and where and manage resources to make sure they could achieve that goal. (more…)