The first scene of the historic “The Secret of Monkey Island” introduced us to Guybrush Threepwood on the island and his ambition to become a pirate. Naturally, in his quest to becoming one, he had to fight a duel with the best swordsman on the island, find buried treasure and raid the governor’s mansion. If he had known this, he might have given up his dreams of going to sea and returned to the comforts of home. The game would have been over very quickly.
The Saga of Monkey Island was one of the first video games whose progress was marked out by a complex script. The two lines and dot that offered all the action that Pong could manage had been replaced by a story that included pirates, wizards, politicians in a blend of genres such as action and humour that had until then been the province of literature and cinema.
Video games like Monkey Island or Manic Mansion offered us convoluted tales with characters who evolved and alternative paths that depended on the choices made by the player. From those pioneers we come to the present day.
In recent years we have been submerged in the undersea world of Bioshock, survived the apocalypse with Fallout and satisfied John Marston’s thirst for vengeance in the western setting of Red Dead Redemption.
The creative process behind all these projects goes far beyond the simple visual presentation of a story. Like a film, it takes a combination of script, music, photography and any type of art we can imagine to create the product that finally arrives in the players’ hands. Inevitably, the inspiration for a process as complex as this can arrive from many sources. The creative director of Tequila Works, Raúl Rubio, explained to Yorokobu that he found the inspiration for his Rime video game in the paintings of Sorolla and claimed that his main source for ideas was “life itself”.
From controllers to the big screen
Video games have included adaptations of films since the earliest days of the video game industry. The catalogues of the first generation of consoles had versions of films such as 007, Batman, Blade Runner or Atari’s famous ET game, which many consider to be the worst video game ever.
The roles have also sometimes been reversed, with such mixed delights as the Super Mario Bros or Street Fighter movies. The progress towards complex plotlines – and the financial returns from the industry – have been critical in the recognition of video games as an art form and narrative media to equal cinema. This change in perception has convinced Hollywood to gamble on blockbuster films based on games such as World of Warcraft and the Tomb Raider and Resident Evil series.
The question has long been in the air. When will we see a video game win an Oscar? The doors were opened in 2017 when the trailer for the indie game Everything came close to being nominated for the best animated short.
New media, new languages
It is clear that the stories told in video games are not only for the big or small screen. In recent years we have seen how immersive experiences have affected the sector and, of course, the creative processes. The third edition of Barcelona Games World (BGW), which is held between 29 November and 2 December in the Gran Via site of Fira de Barcelona, shows how games and their narratives are being adapted to new technologies like virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality in its new XR Zone. This space offers visitors 1,500 m2 in which to experiment with the new ways of interacting with video games in simulators, laser combat, escape reality and multi-player games based on immersive experiences. These new formats allow players to write their own script for the story.
Besides this new area, Barcelona Games World will have over 52,000 m2 of new products and experiences related with the world of games.
Barcelona Games World celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Mega Drive
Once again, BGW is the meeting point for video game nostalgia with the celebration of the sixth edition of RetroBarcelona, which will be paying homage this year to the MegaDrive, the SEGA console that changed the sector 30 years ago.
Visitors can discover the secrets of this legendary machine and relive games such as Shinobi, Streets of Rage or Sonic the Hedgehog, which were decisive in the expansion of video game narratives.
Besides the exhibitions and tournaments dedicated to the MegaDrive, RetroBarcelona offers visitors more than 250 consoles, arcade machines and classic computers with which to enjoy the most successful games of the 80s and 90s all over again.