In the early days, you basically had to choose whether or not your game was going to have an interesting story or innovative gameplay.
Then things changed. Technology got better. Game genres that weren't specifically focused on story were able to include story elements. Soon, every game became a story-based game, whether it was a shooter, action game, RPG, or otherwise. Simply having a story wasn't enough, now you had to have compelling gameplay to back it up. As a result, the RPG and point-and-click adventure markets have started to wane in recent years.
But then a few developers realized that they could just up the ante. If gameplay-based games can have the stories old story-based games have, then story-based games could have even more story. Hence we are now seeing a brand new resurgence of these games through the efforts of Quantic Dream, the makers of Heavy Rain, and Telltale, whose Walking Dead series is easily one of the best-written games on the market right now.
So this begs the question, what happens next?
Well, since the focus on story has been renewed, we are going to see many more cinematic games. Telltale and Quantic Dream will keep doing their part, but now Double Fine is jumping into adventure games once more. With the increased focus on indie development, adventure games have a place to flourish. And with big-name RPGs like Skyrim and Dragon Age renewing public interest in roleplaying, RPGs might see a second coming as well.
Of course, then the cycle continues. The action market will eventually catch up to this new high standard of story, which will make story-based games fade out until some new technological revolution. So on so forth. It's hard to say where the end will be. As long as technology keeps evolving, we may never see the end of this story-vs.-gameplay cycle. On the off chance our technology gets so good that the cycle does stop, we most likely will have realized the fantasy of completely immersive virtual reality, at which point the dividing line between "story" games and "gameplay" games will be so thin it probably won't even matter.
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Date: July 5, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central. This week's is also purely a work of fiction*