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THUNDER: How Thrilling Short Stories can Change Video Games

 Stories have been a part of many cultures around the world, since Homer’s epics like Iliad and Odyssey which were “told”, not in books, but live in person, by a storyteller who would act out each character’s personality, voice, and action.

In a sense, we can consider video games to be the next generation of “short stories” we experience not in books, but through ourselves, by acting out and truly believing in the roles we play in a virtual world created as a stage for a series of events, where our actions and choices have consequences and meaning, where the story is not just being told to us – rather we are unfolding it right before our eyes.

As Shakespeare would put it, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players,” and this becomes true as video games become more engaging through storytelling. Call it a collective conscious, universal themes and archetypes which appear in our culture in the form of stories and character types in art, literature, music, film and now – video games.

We recognize and acknowledge the merits of storytelling in video game design. We have decided that since the people are changing and the medium in which stories are being told is constantly advancing, that together we must also constantly advance the stories we tell.

THUNDER presents an engaging story for the players to act upon, to become immersed in as their actions and their choices affect the world around them – the same world viewed by the other player characters.  Now, the story just doesn’t evolve for the individual, rather for the entire community, every minor and major change that the players achieve will have an effect on everyone, just like the real world, as for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Most MMOs fabricate this; their world isn’t altered or controlled by their players, rather it resets for the next player. They simply build the game to present the illusion of a functional economy, a living environment, and that the player’s choices and achievements rarely affect the game world much at all, most of the time, the changes are only true to the individual player in the moment.

THUNDER’s story follows the game, it never interrupts it. The story’s progression begins here in open social blogs where the general public can discuss the story and all its detail to offer input and strengthen their understanding of the game world. As the players become immersed into this virtual evolving world as real inhabitants in an exciting story where they just don’t win or lose, they make history and record their epic legacy.

Thrilling short stories invites thrilling gameplay, even more so as the player becomes intimately involved in the story’s progression. Video games have become just as much a part of our modern culture as movies have, rivaling it in popularity and far exceeding it in sales and revenue; in large part because of exciting stories and plots presented.  In movies, the story makes everything a compelling story with characters worth knowing and plots worth following.  Video games combine what we love about movies into an interactive and graphically attractive medium, packaged with a friendly interface that is even more immersive and even more engaging than the big screen.

Without the elements of a thrilling story, beautiful graphics and moving soundtracks a game would not be what our full game experience demands.