From Will Wright's MasterClass

The Relationship Between Story and Games

Games are capable of producing emotions that other media cannot, since they allow players to create their own stories. Will teaches you how to create a sense of agency and responsibility in your players and offer them expressive tools.

Topics include: Empathy vs Agency • Enable Players to Become Storytellers

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Games are capable of producing emotions that other media cannot, since they allow players to create their own stories. Will teaches you how to create a sense of agency and responsibility in your players and offer them expressive tools.

Topics include: Empathy vs Agency • Enable Players to Become Storytellers

Will Wright

Teaches Game Design and Theory

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Games and story I think have a very interesting relationship with each other, and I see a lot of game designers that really are aspiring to be storytellers. And I've always thought that the coolest stories are always coming from the players. I mean, it's nice to have a backstory or here's the world and all that, but really you want every player to basically encounter their own story, create their own story by what they do in the game. That's the really interesting story for me. But as creatures, as organisms, we are faced with this kind of fundamental dilemma, which is that we're here, the world's out there. Basically, we have a limited bubble of experience, things that we know about the world, will experience directly about the world. Basically, we take this in through our senses. We see the world, we perceive it in certain ways. It goes into our imagination. We actually start building little models of it. And based upon how we interpret the world around us, it influences our behavior, how we act out there. Now, that limited bubble of experience is not really enough for us to build very effective models of the world. And it's that experience that we're building these models of the world from. So over time, actually through evolution, I think we've discovered two other methods. One is to have toy experiences, where we have symbolic experiences and kind of abstract that back into the real world. The other one is to learn from other people's experiences. If my friend the cave man comes back and says, a tiger almost ate me when I left the cave, I didn't have that experience, but I know the next time I leave that cave, I'm going to look out for a tiger. I was able to learn from his experience without having that experience directly myself. Now, over time, through our culture, we've come to call one of these things play, these toy experiences, and the other one story. These are both, though, fundamentally educational technologies. I think this is why we enjoy consuming these things, because they actually help us build more elaborate, more detailed, world models with a limited experience base. Now, story and play I think have a really kind of interesting two sides of coin relationship here. Some of the really cool stories, the ones that really capture your imagination, you can deconstruct into characters, worlds, locations, objects. I watch my eight-year-old playing with Star Wars LEGOs, and he creates his own stories with the storm troopers and all the components from Star Wars-- and he kind of understands that universe-- but now becomes kind of a set of things for him to play with. I think some of the best games where players have a lot of freedom, creativity, lead to really cool stories. The games are actually generating stories as the players play. So in some sense, I think really good stories can generate play and really good play can generate stories. So I think the two are kind of self supporting, but they're very, very different...

Explore the Possibility Space

Learn the art and science of game design with Will Wright, the mind behind SimCity and The Sims. In this game design class, Will teaches you how to create games that empower players and unleash their imagination. You’ll develop a tool set for understanding player psychology, as well as learn Will’s approach to generating and pitching ideas, prototyping, playtesting, and building a community.

Reviews

4.7
Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Wow! I had no interest in taking this but clicked on it because I thought it would be helpful for a project I'm working on. Utterly fascinating, not only did it help me with my project but also my day job. Even if you have no interest in games, this is a thoroughly enjoyable experience. To be honest, I'm just blown away.

This one was very very usefull. It give me tools to start knowing the world of game designing. Thank you so much Masterclass team to make posible those lessons. Cheers, Miguel Ángel

There were many useful examples, ideas, and explanations. I enjoyed Will's clear and straight-forward style. I intend to replay the series and spend more time deep-diving the workbook.

Can you make the workbook in one instead of having to download each chapter individually

Comments

Wade G.

Wondering if Will Wright was influenced by John Boyd or the USMC doctrine on Warfighting / Clausewitz.. What he says about friction resembles their philosophies....

Asi E.

Assignment - Generate a game concept in your Concept Book based on ...the feeling of being part of a team: A local cooperative multiplayer game, four players playing on one keyboard, each player is assigned one key. For example : A ,F , J, L. They are all controlling a single character, with each key being a single move direction key. The character is in an isometric maze, having to escape threats and get out, the character has four distinctly different text bubbles, with diffrent color, font, frame. When players give opposite move directions at once, the text bubbles argue with one another. When they cooperate, by moving diagonally, they compliment one another. Occasionally plot choices are made, one of four, all four players must hold their buttons down and the last one still pressed is the selected path. Assignment - Prototype an interactive experience that is a tool of self-expression for your players: A firework display game, you set up the different fuses and explosives, colors etc. and then pressing the big red button and watch what you made. You start with simple single color rockets, then open up more and more options: multi color rockets, diffrent scatter shapes, multiple explosions. Eventually working up to Gandalf level fireworks not possible in the real world, flying pheonix with tails of fireworks, dragons that coil and shoot flame. You unlock each next step by making longer and more varied shows. This is something I might even take a shot at with the new Unity ECS and shader upgrades. Might be a fun shader exercise.

XHXIAIEIN

# Chapter 04: The Relationship Between Story and Games >Games are capable of producing emotions that other media cannot, since they allow players to create their own stories. Will teaches you how to create a sense of agency and responsibility in your players and offer them expressive tools. --- WILL WRIGHT: Games and story I think have a very interesting relationship with each other, and I see a lot of game designers that really are aspiring to be storytellers. And I've always thought that the coolest stories are always coming from the players. I mean, it's nice to have a backstory or here's the world and all that, but really you want every player to basically encounter their own story, create their own story by what they do in the game. That's the really interesting story for me. But as creatures, as organisms, we are faced with this kind of fundamental dilemma, which is that we're here, the world's out there. Basically, we have a limited bubble of experience, things that we know about the world, will experience directly about the world. Basically, we take this in through our senses. We see the world, we perceive it in certain ways. It goes into our imagination. We actually start building little models of it. And based upon how we interpret the world around us, it influences our behavior, how we act out there. Now, that limited bubble of experience is not really enough for us to build very effective models of the world. And it's that experience that we're building these models of the world from. So over time, actually through evolution, I think we've discovered two other methods. One is to have toy experiences, where we have symbolic experiences and kind of abstract that back into the real world. The other one is to learn from other people's experiences. If my friend the cave man comes back and says, a tiger almost ate me when I left the cave, I didn't have that experience, but I know the next time I leave that cave, I'm going to look out for a tiger. I was able to learn from his experience without having that experience directly myself. Now, over time, through our culture, we've come to call one of these things play, these toy experiences, and the other one story. These are both, though, fundamentally educational technologies. I think this is why we enjoy consuming these things, because they actually help us build more elaborate, more detailed, world models with a limited experience base. Now, story and play I think have a really kind of interesting two sides of coin relationship here. Some of the really cool stories, the ones that really capture your imagination, you can deconstruct into characters, worlds, locations, objects. I watch my eight-year-old playing with Star Wars LEGOs, and he creates his own stories with the storm troopers and all the components from Star Wars-- and he kind of understands that universe-- but now becomes kind of a set of things for him to play with. I think some of the best games where players have a lot of freedom, creativity, lead to really cool stories. The games are actually generating stories as the players play. So in some sense, I think really good stories can generate play and really good play can generate stories. So I think the two are kind of self supporting, but they're very, very different actually. ## Empathy vs Agency A lot of times you hear that stories have such a deep, emotional connection whereas games are flat. I don't really think that's true. I think that games really haven't matured as much. But I think what it is is that they have very different emotional palates. The emotional palette of film is totally based upon empathy. You can look at characters, actually simulations on the screen, which we call actors pretending to be these characters, and they are basically pretending to have emotions and we're empathizing with those emotions. And so when they feel sad, we feel that sadness. When they're happy, we feel happy. Games, the emotional palette is based upon agency. The fact that I did it. That I'm responsible, I have accountability, I'm the one that pushed the joystick in that direction. So I think that the kind of emotions that we can actually get out of games are very different. Things like guilt, pride, accomplishment, teamwork are things I've felt in gaming I've never felt in linear media, because they were things that I was actively involved with. I remember when I played Black and White the first time. You have this creature you're basically raising and you can discipline it or reward it and I just started slapping it to see what happened and it got really downtrodden and sad and all that and I actually felt so bad, even though I knew it was a digital character. But I felt so bad, and I felt guilty for having done that. There was a much earlier game called Choplifter where you flew this little helicopter around, you were rescuing these little tiny people, which were really like 10 pixels high, and I'd pick them up in the helicopter and bringing them out. They'd get out after I rescued them. They'd jump out of the helicopter and wave at me, and I felt so proud. And it was 10 wide pixels I'd rescued. But it was just funny that it was able to kind of tweak that circuit in my head. A feeling of accomplishment and pride. And again, this is something I've never really felt watching a movie. I've felt indirectly that some character in the movie felt proud or accomplished or guilty. But I didn't directly feel I was responsible for it. So I think that is the primary distinguishing factor between the emotional palette in both. --- ## Enable Players to Become Storytellers As we were getting closer to finishing the very first version of The Sims-- we were of course bringing people in, watching them play it, just observing-- and as designers, we were sitting back and watching them play the game. And as they were playing the game they were telling each other the story of what was happening. And it was hilarious. I really enjoyed hearing the stories. And it was based upon what was actually happening in the game, but they would elaborate and they would add details and they gave it almost themes. And it was just fascinating to me how readily people would build a story around this. I think it's a fundamental way for us to convey things to another person is through story. And so we decided that we should-- at the very last minute, we decide we were going to put a feature in so players could basically capture screenshots, write text, and basically build a little comic book, a little illustrated comic book, and then upload it with one click. They didn't have to know anything about the web. It was just built into the game. Capture a story, write it under the pictures, press a button, it goes on the web. And so we had a section of our website with player stories, and it became immensely popular. And initially it was kind of predictable silly stories about superheroes or whatever. But very rapidly, we started seeing these very heartfelt, deep, real stories. There was one of the early ones was a woman who got out of an abusive relationship. And she was trying to tell that story to inspire other women in the same position. Other ones were how this guy had a horrible senior year in high school.Some of these were just like almost rants. One was a rant about how they hated this one particular Starbucks in New York City because the homeless people would go in there and drink the cream. Just weird things like that. It was amazing that these were people that probably never would have written these things down at all. They didn't really have a creative outlet. But once they started playing the game and they started actually recreating these things and they found how easy it was to share, and also these people would post these stories and other people would comment about them, rate them. And for a lot of these people who've never once been told they were creative or done anything interesting, to just have five people, random people, say that was really cool, made them tremendously motivated. They would go back and do much more elaborate stories after that. It took very little positive reinforcement or recognition for these people to dive in. And obviously, these people had things they wanted to express. So basically, this game for them turned into a creative tool, a tool of self-expression. And so we later kind of developed that in The Sims where you're capturing movies and much more elaborate things. And of course, along side of games there's been this really interesting field of machinima where people are actually using game engines to tell stories very, very cheaply. And so that's something, for the same reason, has been growing up along side of games and has turned into its own kind of whole medium. ---

The Fool

I've met a bunch of people recently who all want to get into game design or say they want to get into game development "To tell stories", and then they don't actually have any good stories to tell and the 'what if' stories they come up with don't lead to any actual game play. Some of them get offended when you ask "How does that play? What does the player do?" Maybe something in the water. I come at it from an angle of "What story was happening ten minutes before the player entered the game." , I guess I think like a film director that way, in that I believe you should be introduced to the credits of the game while the world is introduced and then you are given freedom to interact with that world once you've gotten some sense of the rules. I'm not necessarily good at doing that, but I'd like to be.

Patrick M.

I remember being 8 years old and crying over the death of my Sim named "Milkshake". My sister would never let go of the computer that she used for 3 things: Message her boyfriend through MSN, Limewire and Sims. I asked her a million times so she just gave me about 5 minutes or so to create my own Sim and add it to her Sim house which already had a white couple. I'm pretty sure she modeled this couple off of Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams characters in the film "The Notebook", anyway the house was no place for my black woman Sim named after this song I couldn't get off of my mind at the time: Milkshake by Kelis. I jumped around in joy after she let me create her and live in the same house as the couple she created. As I was switching channels between MTV and Nickelodeon and eating this crappy thing we used to eat when visiting my dad called "Lunchables", I looked around to see how Milkshake was doing. As I got behind my sister to see what was going on she elbowed me and told me to not breathe down on her. I asked about Milkshake being that I couldn't see her anywhere. "She's dead." I got on top of the keyboard and looked around to see that my sister had bought another house, with infinite money thanks to that "Rosebud" cheat she used to use all the time. She put Milkshake into the house and let it burn. 2004-2004 Rest in Peace Milkshake.

A fellow student

I love hearing WIll's analysis of mechanics. What is a story and what can we do with it? What is play and what can we do with it? I am doing this class in order to find what kinds of game mechanics can fit into the classroom. My first thoughts after watching this video got me thinking about my new situation as a teacher. I am an EFL (English as a Foreign Langauge) school teacher and I've had a few months to think about this with my elementary school students. Here is my own theory about how classrooms and school fit into a medium of learning (alongside the broad categories of Play and Story). There can be moments of individual games but the strength of being in a class I think are the groups of students. From two people and up, I made the mistake of simply carrying over aspects from games onto the chalkboard but I quickly lost most of my students' attention. Thus, I feel that the classroom requires everybody to settle down to into a general story or subject. There can also be times of engaging game aspects but the class must ultimately come together with a common story or issue they can talk about...

Waadee S.

The connection between video games and films. Video games are like music instruments.You play them and get entertained. Films are also like music instruments. When you see a film, the mechanics of it make you weave the story. It happens so subtly that you don’t realise the play. You feel that it’s some sort of a communication. But it is a play, very similar to puzzle or riddle solving.

Shan K.

Hi guys, Story and play share a relationship of giving the player an "experience," however different each experience is... and it is interesting that each experience showcases our emotional palette as a player.