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Posts Tagged ‘Skyrim’

I frequently mention that I enjoy playing video games like Dragon Age, Skyrim, and Fallout. For a lot of people, video games seem like an idle entertainment, but you could say the same thing about the stories we write. Right? And we surely hope that readers will find something of value in the idle entertainments we create.

For me, these role-playing video games fill some of the same space that reading books does. It’s a form of story-telling where you participate in the action. Rather than reading about a desperate mission behind enemy lines, you/your character carries out that desperate mission. You meet interesting people, some of whom are human and some who aren’t (depending on which game it is). You can help “write” the dialogues that get them to be friendly or make enemies. You can even fall in love!

In a good role-player, the player is making choices that shape the outcome of the game. Or so it appears. As a writer myself, I understand that it is all scripted and the player is not really changing them. Especially not the ultimate outcome of the game’s story. The game writers have a right to make the point they want to make. So I’m pretty tolerant of scripted outcomes.

When I regret a choice in a video game, it’s usually because I joined a faction or romanced a character that is too divergent from my own beliefs. A good example is the Brotherhood of Steel, one of the factions in Fallout 4. In my first playthrough, they struck me as too militaristic, so I passed on my chance to join them. For my current playthrough, I decided to try the Brotherhood. I built my character so their philosophy would appeal to him. It wasn’t enough.

First they say they’re here to save humanity from the monsters of the wasteland. Okay, cool. But then they encourage you to threaten settlers in order to establish supply lines with dialogue like “You know what to do.” Even if you purchase the supplies, your faction then “controls” the settlement rather than being “allies.” I started calling them the Brotherhood of Steal. When they wanted me to attack other factions to gain more control, my character stopped doing their missions. He definitely regretted his choice. Now I’ve joined a different faction that seems like they might fight against the Brotherhood. If so, that is something I/he will not regret.

This is not, specifically, a complaint about that faction. As I writer, I learn a lot from these games. One thing is how to engage readers/players without dragging them. “Let’s save humanity from monsters” is a great hook. But I also enjoyed how the game writers slowly upended the Brotherhood of Steel. While my character was furious, I admired the writers’ skill.

Also, it reminded me not to put my reader in a place where they regret cheering my characters on. Unless that is my point, of course. For instance, in The Tower in the Mist, some of my characters slowly realized that they were on the wrong side. If I showed this well enough, the readers will have come along for the rest of the series.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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