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Use the game's world to tell stories, says Levine

The game world itself, not characters or cut scenes, is the best space for storytelling says 2K Boston's Ken Levine

The game world itself, not characters or cut scenes, is the best space for storytelling says 2K Boston's Ken Levine.

Levine, who gave a GDC session entitled "Storytelling in BioShock: Empowering Players to Care about Your Stupid Story," notes that there is a difference between story and narrative.

"Story is the stuff you tell the player," he told GamesIndustry.biz.

"It's the same experience for everybody in the sense that even if it is a branching story...There is a limited amount of space."

Narrative, on the other hand, is the story the player is able to construct on his or her own initiative.

"That's why so much of the story with BioShock is in the world and everybody experiences it differently," he said.

"We tried to put as much of it in things that a player could either opt in or opt out of - see or not see, listen to or not listen to - rather than 'Watch this cut scene. Watch this cut scene. Watch this cut scene.'"

Although Levine realises that not all gamers will appreciate the complexity of a good story, he still thinks it is an important goal for developers.

"What is our best space for storytelling? Cut scenes? Characters? No. It is the world around you," he said.

"In BioShock, most of the story fits in the world around you. The whole world was a metaphor for the story. You have this beautiful dream that is literally falling apart by the seams - with the water coming in. The crushing weight of reality, you know?

"That's a visual metaphor for the story, and I think that games do this better than anybody else because we have all these resources."

The complete GDC interview with Ken Levine can be read here.

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