The power of stories

Speaking about Storybricks got me thinking about how solid storytelling can make a real difference in the way we take in what we experience. The amazing thing is that strong emotional reaction can come from the tiniest things.

The video here represents, to me, one of the most powerful moments of storytelling in Mass Effect 2. Perhaps even more impressive is that it lasts less than 50 seconds. Several things stand out:

  • This is an almost inconsequential micro-quest: while doing something completely different, your character stumbles upon an item. If you later come by the right NPC, you can give her that item. The rewards are completely trivial and don’t matter at all in your character development
  • This scene illustrates just how little it takes, in reality, to weave in content that adds substance to the experience you are creating for your audience
  • It is also a demonstration how good voice acting really brings it to life. Without it, the effect would be totally lost. And the actress voicing the distressed NPC struck it exactly right – even slightly more melodramatic would have totally ruined it. This is what every successful stand-up comedian knows yet many storytellers forget: the delivery is at least as important as the content.

If an image says more than a thousand words, a short scene says as much as several dozen images. This, more than anything I wrote in my previous post, is why I truly believe in Storybricks’ potential.

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7 Responses to The power of stories

  1. Brian 'Psychochild' Green (3 comments) says:

    Hm, interesting example. I think you’re exactly right, where a little thing like this could be a very fascinating story. Especially for imaginative players who can “fill in” some of the missing story elements that aren’t explicit in the game.

    I hope you’re not too disappointed because Storybricks won’t have voice acting. We’re still trying to figure out how to do text without going down the rabbit hole that is procedurally generated text. Lots of interesting challenges. :)

  2. Gwaendar (217 comments) says:

    About the voice acting, no, that’s not among my expectations, though I imagine that if it does well as an engine, the request for adding voice hooks to the speech and mood bricks will come eventually :)

  3. Chikankari (1 comments) says:

    i think voice quality not clear.

  4. Barbei (1 comments) says:

    Awsome video.. I like this so much .. :) thanks a lot

  5. dolon (1 comments) says:

    what a video……..

  6. Doreen Dickens (1 comments) says:

    Thank you for this. It is true that telling stories creates strong emotional connections and makes even the worst of situations bearable. It simplifies understanding of things and creates stronger relations among people. Great video great summary!

  7. Andrew (3 comments) says:

    I love telling stories. Overall a great post, especially the video.