I Don’t Want To Watch A Video To Understand A Game’s Lore

I think a game failed in telling its story if players have to search up its lore after completing it.

Story Highlights

  • Making lore optional undermines the gaming medium’s ability to tell stories.
  • Not knowing important lore-related things can confuse players, ruining their experience.
  • If a game’s lore ultimately doesn’t matter then players are left feeling unsatisfied.

One of the best features of video games as a medium is they tell amazing stories. From epic tales of human determination like the Gears of War series to soul-touching personal stories tackling grief and death like Spiritfarer, there’s a little something for everyone.

However, some games have excellent stories with unnecessarily convoluted stories. I can’t even remember how many times I’ve had to search the lore of a story I JUST finished because the game didn’t properly convey it. Don’t even get me started on the Kingdom Hearts and Metal Gear Solid lore that’s famously difficult to understand.

While there is no doubt some who defend this way of telling stories with their lives, I think gamers shouldn’t have to watch a video to understand a game’s lore. I think it is not only an inefficient way to tell stories within your game, but it does more harm than good when looking at a game holistically.

This Undermines The Medium’s Storytelling Abilities

This point is exclusively for video games that have optional lore. Many games make it so players don’t necessarily have to find story and lore elements. Because of this, many players go their entire playthrough without understanding why they spent 40 hours doing whatever they did. Imagine if Luke Skywalker didn’t know he had to beat the Sith or if Frodo didn’t know anything about the ring.

YouTube video

This sort of storytelling feels like it undermines the potential video games can have for telling stories. In my opinion, this is a lazy way to include lore into your game. It feels like an admission of an inability to integrate the lore within the game’s story, instead choosing to leave that responsibility to the players to figure out for themselves.

Keeping lore optional can also confuse players and cause wrong assumptions. Using Elden Ring as an example, many players didn’t know the Raani we see is actually a puppet or that Marika and Radagon are the same. Using a more recent example, Radahn’s connection to Miquella as his consort in the Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree DLC is largely unknown, and some fans of the Starscourge Demigod assume the worst.

It’s Disruptive To The Gaming Experience And Lore

Some developers opt to include so much lore in their series that every small event connects back to something else. I feel this sort of storytelling is detrimental to the experience of playing through a game because it forces you to constantly look away to videos or guides to follow the game’s story or understand the lore implications of any event instead of understanding the game.

Games that makes you read to understand lore is not genius
byu/fact-speaker inunpopularopinion

Playing through a video game shouldn’t feel like homework that requires you to look through multiple sources to get what’s going on with a game’s story. Let us use Kingdom Hearts as an example here again. The game series has several entries, from the mainline ones to some spinoffs stranded on the Nintendo DS or mobile devices. However, they’re all connected and referenced.

In a sense, these types of games are more like the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The way the MCU is almost universally hated for its unnecessarily convoluted lore and the large number of movies and shows players must get through, some game series should get the same treatment. Just look at the amount of DLCs and hours you have to sink in Destiny 2 to catch up.

Leaves The Game’s Lore Feeling “Incomplete” 

Complimenting your game’s story or having a more passive role within the larger design makes the game feel incomplete. It relegates the story to take a back seat because when the story for your game has such a high barrier of entry, it removes its need to exist in a player’s mind. This gets to the point that gamers don’t engage with the story properly for it either being too complicated or inconsequential that its inclusion or exclusion arguably does not matter.

What video game lore is the hardest to understand?
byu/edlewis3035 invideogames

Letting your players come to that conclusion leads them to ultimately have an incomplete experience of the entire game because no matter how detailed your lore is or how well-tuned your story is, the gamer won’t care, leading them to miss an essential part of the entire game’s experience.

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Hannan is an Opinion Piece writer at eXputer. He is a BBA student who started gaming when he was just three years old with his trusty Nintendo 64 and hasn't stopped since. Dabbling in all sorts of games, he's the type to never bash you for liking a particular game, even if he'll judge you for liking Mass Effect: Andromeda. When he isn't sitting on his worn-out gaming chair playing something, he's either writing about games or on his bed thinking about what to play next, even if he'll eventually replay Skyrim for the 100th time.

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