Most video game storytelling has touched me by holding a pillow over my face and screaming "Movie! Watch the movie!" until I stop trying to participate. Most games act like movies. Your actions in the game don't matter because you are just the actor filling the role of Cloud for this performance of FFVII. Interactivity, in such cases, is just a gimmick without any real consequence. It's like Dora turning to the screen and asking the viewer to shout a word back.
I find myself annoyed by fetch quests that are designed solely to give me something to do as the player between cinematics. Rails/invisible walls are equally annoying because they don't make sense. And the no-fail element so common in games is ridiculous. Yet games with these elements are often praised for their story. Some of these elements are OK because they can be used to teach the player how the game is played. They are the training montages of video games--effective in limited use. In most games, these elements are the game.
When people share their stories of awesome things that happened in games (which means they were affected by those things) they are most often interactions between the game and the player--I wandered into a camp with three giants and did cool stuff and defeated them. Did the player write that story? The camp was a written into the game world by the developers. The way the giants reacted was written by the developers. The outcome, though, was uncertain. That is the power of video games. I could have run. I could have climbed a hill and fended off the giants with arrows. I could have been killed. And the result of that interaction would change my behavior as a player--confidence or caution.
The original Fallout games (the first two) were great for the fact that they had a well-defined stories and yet allowed the player to do as they chose--and they were actually fun. The story would continue without player interaction--which means the player failed the original quest by running around and goofing off or getting distracted by another interesting element. There were mysteries that would encourage the player to actually follow the main story (which had multiple solutions) and subplots, and the ending of the game was determined by the choices you made. It was a lot more like playing a campaign of Dungeons and Dragons than watching a movie or reading a Find Your Fate book. That's where I found the story that had the greatest impact on me as a player--when I had to choose between the mission and what I believed was right, and it was a real choice with real consequences in the game world. Most games are like funnels guiding you to the pre-determined ending.
Maybe I'm jaded because I know that developers can make a compelling story that's fun and actually allows the player to interact with the story rather than simply mash buttons to make the story continue.
Edited by foxbunny, 16 December 2014 - 03:21 PM.