Thursday, 18 March 2021

Which Path Will You Choose?

Who read adventure books as a kid where you chose your own path and changed the story? Ever read a book and wished the author had gone in  a different direction? And what about that old man sitting on the side of the road who told the protagonist to go left at the intersection instead of right, what’s his story? If these are things you think about when reading a story or writing your own, maybe you need a different outlet.

Aristotle defined storytelling as an imitation of an action … with incidents of pity and fear, wherewith to accomplish its catharsis of such emotions, and paved the way for story structure for novels and even the movies industry.

Now it’s the gaming industry’s turn.

If you love reading stories and watching movies, maybe this is the perfect time to have a look at taking up your son, daughter, niece or nephew’s Xbox or Playstation controller.

Game designers have had to think outside the box because of the countless intricacies and uncertainties associated with game timeline. For example, players can take infinite variables in time to complete a game. Players lacking skill or the game difficulty is too high can halt their progress. Level or quest based games having numerous tasks and puzzles can pull the attention of the player in conflicting directions; and non-linear games allow player’s to take control of the path and pacing of the story.

Skyrim, a game from the Elder Scrolls series, allows you to move throughout the world and discover different locations, people and stories. The main storyline is linear like a novel, however you have the ability to explore the Skyrim world and experience other storylines before returning to the main story whenever you wish.

Life is Strange, is an episodic graphic adventure game, which was released as five episodes periodically throughout 2015. This video game uses a branching narrative model and completely revolves around the choices made by you. These choices affect the outcome of the game and can produce a variety of endings. Imagine trying to write a hundred different choices, obstacles and endings. Now that’s a challenge.

Narrative has evolved so much in the last few decades of video games. Ga
me developers like those who created Skyrim and Life is Strange, even the action adventure game, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, have brought the complexities and emotional, real-life decision making into gameplay through storytelling and narrative.

These modern games encourage interaction from you, giving you choices that have real consequences and allowing you to make your own story based on the decisions you make. Narrative is becoming more elaborate in video games and an increasingly popular way of expressing stories. If you love writing, creating worlds and characters, maybe this could be a new outlet for yourself.

I’ve always thought a movie based on one of my novels would be cool, but a game? Now that would be epic!

K.A. Hart is a born and bred Territorian who moved to Queensland and had no choice but to stay after her assimilation into Toowoomba's infamous, collective known as Quirky Quills.

Since then, K.A. Hart has had two short stories published. Stone Bearer appears in Glimpses of Light and Tedious Tresses, in the As Time Goes By anthology. She is currently working on a fantasy novel.


  1. What a great idea! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Great article about a refreshing option which is exactly the kind of box breakout thinking I love.

    When I first envisaged my novel, I imagined it having an interactive ebook so that readers could engage with puzzle solving and explore links - my idea was boohooed as being too out there/complex for most publishers whose concept of innovation was restricted by 'marketable' conformity. In the end, I sighed and left it as a suggestion one of my characters makes. Even then, I wanted to create the connection between tech and story, especially as creating computer games is one protagonist's passion. (Who knows, maybe one day I'll do it anyway.)

    As a tutor, I've often heard teenage boys say they want to become game developers (and yes, at that age the gender bias is common). I ask them if they enjoy English? Story writing? Do they read a lot? Are they imaginative and creative? Artistic? They're often surprised by those questions and their answers reveal they like/are good at IT and playing computer games. They've also been surprised when I talk about the transition of computer games into extended interactive stories. Then I see ideas start ticking over in their expressions.

    As for me, I've just replaced my daggy, uncomfortable office chair with a super comfortable and supportive gaming chair, complete with superb lumbar support and red racing stripes. Perhaps my little red racing chair will improve my workspace ergonomics AND inspire my adventurous streak. ;)

  3. Thanks for that, Kirtsen. The 'choose your own adventure' books weren't a thing when I was growing up in the dark ages. It's great to see those books for kids now. I'd never really considered the importance of narrative in gaming. It must be a challenge coming up with all of those alternatives that need to make sense regardless of the level the player is at. It would be awesome if your novel was turned into a game. So many plot decisions are made when writing a novel, that it would be great to provide alternate endings and 'what if' scenarios. Thanks for sharing on a topic we don't hear a lot about. Great food for thought.