In many ways the games industry is way ahead of traditional media makers like TV and film production companies when it comes to understanding how to use storyworld.
Games companies and the writers they employ to create characters, cut-scenes, game story, dialogue and design documents realise that storyworld works with many game genres, and not just RPGs. They realise that STORY is more than an in-game narrative that links levels of gameplay, and that a STORYWORLD generates the extra story and game content ideas they need to engage their players and communities.
Assassin’s Creed and The Elder Scrolls series, admittedly both RPGs, have huge worlds and timelines, histories and mythologies that enable deeper engagement for fans. They also have transmedia story content in the form of novels, guides, animations, fan-fiction, online game, and DLC, all of which originates from within the storyworld.
Even the big hitters like Call Of Duty have a storyworld that generates content. The early games were set in World War 2, travel along the timeline and you have COD: Modern Warfare. Another spin-off are the Black Ops games with their own convoluted stories and histories, not to mention the whole zombie survival game mode.
A rich and detailed storyworld that accompanies a game enables companies to deliver engaging extra story and game content to players who want more from the game than just the game itself, and to players who want to be a part of the game, which, in a way, they already become when playing it. They love the game experience and want more. If there is nothing else to do they may wander to games that deliver the wider experience they seek.
Through storyworld generated content a game can be extended beyond the game enabling the player to become a part of the story through engagement with this extra story content. The player will then take this newly acquired knowledge back into the game and will enjoy a deeper game experience.
This may also create a desire to purchase merchandise. If you take a quick look at Call Of Duty merch it includes posters, dog tags, caps, T-shirts, shades, insignia, key rings – the list is endless.
Merchandise and story content spring from the game’s storyworld and create new ways to the main product – read The Elder Scrolls novel, Infernal City and then play the game.
Storyworld is all about storytelling and writers tell stories. The games industry appears to understand storyworld so maybe we are about to see the rise of the writer in the games industry?