Story Or Substance – Which Is More Important In Video Games?


There’s an ongoing debate over whether story or substance is the more important aspect of a video game. Many will argue that story is the most important aspect. They might see video games as a form of art which can be looked at as an interactive form of literature. Others will argue that substance is far more important than story because it’s more entertaining than a story.

Personally, I think a great video game needs a balance of both. I disagree to look at one as more important than the other, because both are crucial for making a great video game. Some video games require the perfect balance of both. If you look at a game like Xenoblade Chronicles, that game has a great balance between an emotional story and amazing gameplay. The structure of the game requires perfect amounts of both for it to be a great game.

On the other hand, many video games are great by having a good amount of just one aspect. Take a look at Super Mario Bros., for example. There’s hardly any story at all  in that game, besides the whole “save the princess” gimmick that they repeat over and over. The true essence of the game does not lie in the story. With every new game we get, we’re given the same story over and over again with slight alterations. But, does anybody care? Many do not because nobody cares about the story of Super Mario Bros. games! The true essence of the series lies in the gameplay. The classic scroll and jump gameplay never gets old for some people and it has been made such a huge classic game that its gameplay style never gets old. Games like these do not need a story. Rather, they need addicting gameplay to grab the attention of the player.

The other aspect, of course, is story. While its less common, some games have such a riveting story that the horrible gameplay doesn’t even matter! Take a look at Life is Strange. This is a game that is very strictly story-based and there’s no gameplay whatsoever other than clicking to walk around and talk to people. The story’s substance is practically nonexistent, but players eat it up because the story keeps them on the edge of their seat. The game doesn’t have incredible graphics or anything more than two controls for that matter, but the story makes up for it and it has allowed this game to become a major success.

What I’m saying is that there’s no fine line between which one is better. It depends on the genre of games that you are looking at. Some games require a perfect balance of both, and other games require a higher concentration of one over the other. I think people need to stop being one-sided with this because not all games are the same. Some think that all video games need to have a great story and/or all video games need great substance, but that’s just not the case. People can have a preference over which style they like better (I have a preference of an action-adventure game with a perfect balance of both), but one opinion is not better than the other.

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