A few years ago on here there was a discussion about what makes a Christian game (topic: Christian Games?
). I was reading through it and noticed a comment about storytelling through gameplay that wasn't addressed. Here's part of the post (p.4 of the discussion):
I've been looking at the whole indie scene for a bit... Jonathan Blow etc. (Gamasutra is a great resource btw) Anyway, Jonathan Blow did a talk on the dynamic meaning of a game versus the story meaning - Just look through his blog for the link to the mp3.
His point was that every action in a game, every consequence, carries a meaning to the player. Long story short (it's a good talk, the MIGS 08 one) we can tell the player things without story. Games aren't a linear medium - they're an interactive one. We can't tell a story and then have them collect rupies along the way to 'unlock the next chapter', because if we're doing that, we might as well make a movie. Games should let people actually interact with the world. (Now, I'm still living at home, and I have one messily done 2d game under my belt - I haven't seen if this is actually possible yet)
An example: Say we have a game set in Camelot. Arthur has got this gold, and he wants to protect it now. So you're a knight, and you defend the fort against theives. All fine and dandy (but now the theves can break into your house too, so you've got to be wary of that.) Then this merchant shows up, sells arthur an automated castle defence system, and you get fired. You then get rehired as a contractor to "Make sure it works". ANyway, it gets to this point where you're defending your own castle. Thing is, the merchant is always coming out with a new defense system. And the theives are getting more hi tech. Eventually, the new products are being sold at a faster and faster rate (the 20000 Laser cannon, only 6.99! Tomorrow, we'll be selling the XQ Laser for 9.99 - you'd better buy it because the 20000 is obselete now)... The player gets overwhelmed by the products, and eventually realizes it's all really dumb to keep buying them anyway.
That's a game about materialism, how everything in this world is temporary, how we need to set our eyes on what's eternal. That message is not told through a story, but through the gameplay (I haven't made this game, and I keep getting No's from God when I ask Him about it. I tucked it away in my idea book for later though)
Anyway. That's another avenue we have to get the gospel out to people. Through dynamic meaning.
I feel like this is untapped potential. How many Christian games utilize this approach? It seems like most games either use drawn out stories to deliver a Christian message (i.e., the generic RPG) or have arbitrary mechanics paired with Christian themes.