When you look at the earliest video games, it definitely makes you appreciate what we have today. I can’t imagine anyone willingly sitting around playing Tennis for Two in 2018 all the time for fun, but back in 1958, that would have been riveting to people. When the earliest video games were created, it was important to just get the tech running correctly and develop the tech in the first place. Once technology was advanced enough, that’s when people were able to start incorporating more advanced graphics and stories.
I haven’t really played a lot of video games in my life, besides games like Pokemon and Mario Kart that are more just for entertainment than the story itself. However, you get to make different decisions as your character and create their life, so you could probably make the argument that Pokemon embodies digital storytelling. Even though I don’t play games a lot myself, I have watched YouTubers who game, especially PewDiePie. I would always watch his videos just because I thought he was funny, but I found myself most drawn to the games he played that had a story behind them. I remember watching his playthrough of games like Telltale’s The Walking Dead, and those stories emotionally drew me in and made me want to keep watching. The one video game I have played the full way through myself is Bioshock Infinite, and although it’s a first-person shooter game, the storyline is what makes the game really interesting and what kept me really engaged with the game.
Although a little mindless entertainment is fun on occasion, people want more than that. Our expectations as a society have greatly changed – now that we have all of this technology, we expect video games to look visually stunning. Even if we don’t realize it, we also expect video games to engage us with a story, because if they don’t, then we lose interest.