Gamify a story or storify a game?

Gamify a story.

A story and a game have a lot in common. Dramatic story in the end gives you enduring satisfaction. At the end of a great movie, you are usually not craving to watch it again because solutions are reached gradually, thru effort and problem solving. Games, instead, want to be played over and over, as the conclusions reached after a shooter game, for example, do not definitively resolve outstanding personal and moral issues. Those conflicts will continue at the drop of the next virtual coin. A game is but a round of a epeatable, neverending process. A story, on the other hand, ends, and the ending resolves the matters exposed in the premise .

When game mechanisms are used to “gamify” a story experience, a different adrenaline -based process can kick in. Do you remember interactive books, when pages could be turned following active choices  made by readers? Have you been playing #Fortnite?  Tangible rewards make audience want more of the same, now. More rewards, more points, more bonuses, more freebies. Games can be played and played because the final solution is not the goal. The adrenaline fills the process of personal survival, of trying to win in order to play again.

I grew up playing and inventing games. I still collaborate with inventors and creatives on gasified storytelling and storified advertising.  As a pro story consultant, I often look inside a story from a gamified perspective. As I see it, play is a passepartout, a skeleton key that helps open the doors of conflict and dramatic development. 

In this post I list some of my favorite games and why they can inspire story design. These games simulate real life adventures. A football game, an escape, a war, a manhunt. Players take on roles and apply tactics and strategies.  What these games share is a narrative backbone, a story environment. Games happen over time, with beginnings middles and ends. What I love about my favorite childhood games ar the simple rule structures that left wide open space for stories to develop, for battles of ideas. No will for success?  Gravity will drag you down into the darkness of defeat.

Subbuteo – A simulation of soccer, where you are bohtthe coach, the technician (lots of choices there) and the players, making every shot and save one the pitch. Some call this game a blend of chess and pool.

Chess – a game where luck plays no part. A move is in plain sight for both players, and yet each move embodies layers of intention and plans for later synergies. The more turns you can see in advance, the better you play. Chess is an extremely violent game, where softness on your opponent is I rewarded with remorse and embarassment.

I love Escape games. In particular : SURVIVE, ESCAPE FROM COLDITZ and SCOTLAND YARD.

Survive is an apocalyptic game where players escape an island blown up by climate-disasters: volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, extreme weather. By using found rowboats or swimming across water dragons and shark-infested waters. Any game of survival, mixes chance and choice to get out alive.

Escape from Colditz is designed by real life British POWs held by Nazis in the castle of East German castle of Colditz. The object of the game is to escape to freedom by planning decoys, bribes, fake papers, clothes and travel plans. The game has splotchy rules, which players can fine tune by accord. One player plays the Nazis, all the others team up to make a run for it. embodies the main reason Great real life historical  storyrtelling is key to the game

SCOTLAND YARD is a manhunt Ravesnsurger game with classic efficiency sand simplicity. One character, known as  X), is on the run in London Town with 5 cops in pursuit. When time runs out the cops or the solo bandit wins.

Two other classics claimed my kid rainy afternoons: RISK and MONOPOLY. The gasified themes of economic domination and world supremacy are here  developed in painstakingly slow gameplay, with a mix of dice-luck and strategy. Lack of empathy helps winners, in both games.