If you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our editorial policy.

Videogame storytelling can surpass film

But still a way to go, Deus Ex writers says.

When it comes to storytelling, videogames are considered the poor cousin to film. Indeed some believe videogames will never surpass film when it comes to telling a good tale. But for one videogame writer, this status quo will come to an end sooner rather than later.

That videogame writer is Deus Ex: Human Revolution lead scribe Mary De Marle, who in a new interview with Eurogamer explained the challenges associated with spinning a good videogame yarn.

"There's great potential to go beyond what films can do," she said. "The difference games have versus movies is, when you're playing a game you're an active participant and what's happening to it is happening to you. There's an aspect of it that's so much more personal once you get into it.

"The way we've told stories in the past through film is, the author of the story is in complete control of it and they can craft something that pulls on your heartstrings. They know the craft and they know the way to give information, reveal it, hold stuff back, characterise their characters, and they know they can feed this to you in a way that makes sense, that builds that questioning inside you to say, 'Where's this going? What's happening?' The revelations are very powerful and hit you when they hit you and make you feel an emotional response.

"But games, we have the dilemma that we can't control what the player is looking at and seeing, and we have to find new ways of doing it, and find new tools of storytelling that enable us to have those reactions."

In Scott Steinberg's Game Theory: Ep 3, famous videogame developers reveal their thoughts on the art of videogame storytelling.

"I don't think we've yet mastered the techniques of true interactive storytelling," was Ultima creator Richard Garriot's verdict.

"I mean that not just in dialogue, not just in cutscenes, but really in the entire experience unfolding and how you emotionally become engaged with what's going on."

For De Marle, the answer is simple: writers must work closely with programmers to ensure the creation of a seamless, compelling whole.

"The more we're working on it we're getting better and better at it, but we have to work more closely with the other members of the team. All sides have to understand we are working together to create a powerful emotional experience and there are times that execution is very important and there are times when the gameplay is what's going to have to do it. So, how can we work together to get that?"

From Assassin's Creed to Zoo Tycoon, we welcome all gamers

Eurogamer welcomes videogamers of all types, so sign in and join our community!

In this article
Follow a topic and we'll email you when we write an article about it.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Mac

Related topics
About the Author
Wesley Yin-Poole avatar

Wesley Yin-Poole


Wesley worked at Eurogamer from 2010 to 2023. He liked news, interviews, and more news. He also liked Street Fighter more than anyone could get him to shut up about it.