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The Curious Case of First Person Storytelling- Part One- The Voice
by Steven Bender on 01/27/14 11:38:00 am   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


Hi there! This is a post I wrote from about first person story telling. Feel free to email me and tell me your thoughts on how you best create first person stories!

Most films nowadays use a mostly passive "3rd person" style of visual storytelling- by framing the main character and the action in different ways, the director can help the audience to focus on something or cut to different locations and focus on different characters, all within the time-space of the film. Videogames will often use this same method for the same reasons, but there is another type of videogame that bucks this trend and develops its story in a slightly different manner- the First Person Narrative game. So what are the challenges of dealing with this unique type of narrative, and what can we do as game designers and directors to continue to promote and develop these types of games?

First, let me get out of the way what I mean by "First Person Narrative"- by this I mean any game that primarily tells its story through the POV of the main character. This can be either with a character who speaks, or one who does not speak. It can also be a game which the Narrative is read to the Player as he goes along by a dedicated, disembodied narrator. I'm going to break this down into three catagories- games that IGNORE the player's "voice" or specific "needs", games where it's INTERCHANGEABLE, and games where it is INTEGRAL or USING CHARACTER to tell the story. To understand the challenges, we'll explore a few examples of games that have done this, starting with Half Life 2 and The Elder Scrolls:

In both these games the designers made the choice to carry on the original's lack of voice (HL2- Gordon, and Elder Scrolls- "you"), which carries through the entire series so far. To tell you the story, they both elected to have a tremendous amount of life going on in the background that tell you about the world. They spend a good amount of time having you walk through these spaces to build up a feeling that YOU are there and that these things are happening to YOU.

Take a look at the clip from HL2 above- how many questions does Barney actually ask you? Because you're not really asked anything, the lack of response from Gordon isn't as glaring. But it still is a bit off-putting to be hanging out and saying nothing, so the designers give you the freedom to walk around and do things. Back when HL2 was made, a non-talking FP hero was more the norm (aside from grunts), so most players just accepted it. But it comes at a price- we learn nothing of Gordon, aside what is told to us by others (are these facts or their opinions?). Gordon's feelings about his world being turned upside-down aren't revealed- but we are lead to believe that he doesn't like it, due to the fact that he fights against it (or at least he does if you want to continue playing the game....).

In the case of The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, we start out creating our own character and giving ourselves our own name. My name was Baravar Steelshield ( manly and fantasy-like, huh?)- yours could very well be Bartle Bummsticker, but it ultimately doesn't really matter, because the game's voice dialogue refers to you as "Dragonborn". It's a bit like calling someone "Zee American". Again, you, as a player, don't talk. However, your CHOICES create branches in the game world and may change the way people respond to you. In the main arc of the game, however, the story is basically the same- if you slaughtered every singe soul in a village, the Greybeards would STILL teach you the shouts you need to progress through the game- is this because word hasn't reached them of your horrible deeds?....

The game doesn't give you a reason for you not talking, but players seem to accept this because of the myriad of different characters you could create and the fact that you're playing potentially as "you". Would the game be better if the player had a "character" who had specifics wants and needs? No, I don't think so, because the end goal of the story is to be "Dragonborn", which is a thing, not really a state of being, a to be anything other than that would imply forcing a character onto you that they didn't ask you to play at the start. The player has never been asked or told that he needs to overcome some sort of personal adversity or turmoil. There is no moral in the story or message that the player needs to deliver. The "fire" he comes back with is for him and only him- no one else really benefits from it, and the player has not actually grown as a person- he's just gotten better at being a tank.

So what they've done is to IGNORE the player as a classical character and instead make him a container through which the audience experiences the world and the plight of those around. No one in the world really bothers to deal with WHY the player doesn't say anything, even though they are talking directly to him.

In the case of HL2, the player has no feelings for the first person character aside from "I hope I don't get blown up". While he is referred to by name, and is often the McGuffin that every seems to need to solve their problems, he could very well be a robot or a space wrench. It doesn't matter if there is a human being in the suit or not and this is is stark contrast to how a film will usually deal with the main protagonist. Usually in a film, the character we spend the most time with is the one that emotionally changes or grows throughout the story and is the main protagonist of that story- Batman goes from being an unsure superhero to the confident hero of Gotham, Luke Skywalker goes from some naive punk to a wise leader, etc. In the case of Half-Life, this is true, somewhat, for Gordon- he goes from being a scientist to a ass-kicking hero, but we never learn anything about how me emotionally deals with this- his trials are all external in nature. We never see his inner struggles. To counteract this, we have all the other characters in the world who go through changes when Gordon is there. They talk to him about their life and their struggles and their loves and losses. We see the pain they go through as their loved ones are murdered or kidnapped. In a way, while Gordon is the main vessel of the story and the character that actually effects the change, he is not the main character- that is part is reserved for Alyx. It is through her that we take the emotional journey, and it is through her that the choices are revealed to us.

This is an important issue within videogames as a whole- in a film, we watch as the main protagonist makes the choices that change his world and his situation. But in your average videogame, the player is told what he has to do (go blow up the enemy base) and what he wants (to take down the Empire). Most videogames, with the exception of some RPGs, don't really give you actual choice. You can't decide that "heck no, I'm not going to go blow up the Death Star- those guys have cable tv! I want to join the Empire!" because, as a game, there often needs to be a goal. Even in most MMOs, the main story arcs are told through unchangeable cut-scenes, while your character goes through trials that "help" the main protagonists on their way to completing whatever the goal is. So the questions is, why even bother, right? Why is the story of the person you're playing important, and can you REALLY ever BE that person, or are you always still "playing as" someone else? Does a voice matter- be it auditory or a choice?

After all, who would want to blow up Stormtroopers when their average day is just dancing away?

So that's the second game that seems to show that you don't NEED to have a vocal character in a First Person game, regardless of whether he has a name or not. So what about Call of Duty: Modern Warfare? It sold very well and it's campaign was hailed as being revolutionary, so how does it deal with telling a First Person story?

The majority of the story in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is told in the level loading screens- they are briefings and conversations that are had by other characters in which you receive orders or the setting is set by you overhearing orders given to others. At no point does the player's character speak, either within the gameplay or in the level loading screens. Since no one cares how your character feels (they just give you orders and you do them), and since you're often being bounced around from one interchangeable dude with a gun to another, the story itself is again about the mission and the result- stop the bad guys- instead of "you, Joe Blow, with your deathly fear of snakes, have to go into the pit of vipers to rescue the girl you love". Again, the narrative of the story within the levels themselves is mostly about the present moment and the issues at hand - "follow me, get down, we can't let the giant purple dinosaur escape, etc".

This game doesn't exactly IGNORE that you're there and that you can't speak- it just doesn't give a shit or even present you with opportunities where you likely would aside from the possible "fuck, that hurt!". The magic of this game is that it makes you really feel like a hero with its big set pieces and pacing, and with the unique way in which it requires you to interact with the game, such as the time you have to crawl out of the downed aircraft after the bomb hit. Previous games, had they done that, never would have monkeyed with the controls, but CoD:MW, by doing so, added a sense of "being there" and that this was happening to YOU that hadn't been seen too often in games. They also give character to people and those people are the ones you play with throughout the game. It makes you feel like you're important in a "I'm in the group" sort of way but without actually giving the player much character. Yes, they do give him a name at one point ("Soap" McTavish), but for all that matters, he could have been "Random Gun Robot A", aside from that he does keep switching between people. The player's character here is somewhat INTERCHANGEABLE.

So the lesson here could be: if you don't want your guys to say anything, try not tying the player too closely with one particular dude or asking that dude too many questions. Don't let him THINK, force him to ACT and put a lot of big set pieces and moments in there to make him feel like he's in a big budget non-stop action movie.

So let's take a look at a series that I know personally very well- CRYSIS.

We had the same challenges in the Crysis franchise that the other games have had. The original Crysis had a rather subdued protagonist, Nomad, would didn't talk a whole heck of a lot, and then later in the game, he seemed to not talk AT ALL, until the end. Why? well, I really don't recall, but there was considerable upheaval and changes made to Crysis at one point that had moved a few levels around and changed the script- this might have something to do with that. It was curious as to how Nomad would yell about his "chute being gone" but never remarked on the frozen boat in the middle of the jungle, no? The story of Crysis was a bit "you're Nomad", but you're also "Jake Dunn...or maybe not...or" and there was nothing you needed to overcome aside from blowing shit up. For all we knew in Crysis, Nomad could have been any number of dudes in a suit most of the time. Again, a vessel for the player to blow shit up with. We could have just as well called him "You With the Gun".

In Crysis 2, the writer made the decision to not give the hero a voice. This supported the idea that the suit was a vessel for something, but the problems we encountered came from the way the game originally started from. See, like CoD:MW, you HAVE a name- Alcatraz. It's a codename, but a name nonetheless. Your team probably knows your real name and your rank. This means that you likely came from somewhere- you weren't born from a cake of biofuel. You had a family, or at least a life, before this point. In contrast, however, to CoD:MW, the player controls and follows this guy through the entire game. "So what? Gordon had a name and we didn't care that he didn't talk!" True, but with so many people calling the dude "Prophet", your average player just wanted to scream out "I'M NOT PROPHET!", but the game wouldn't let him, NOR did it give him a solid, consistent reason why he couldn't. A good solution to this would have been to have other characters mention how "the suit's voice actuator must be broken" or something similar. Ah, yes, hindsight and all...

Nathan Gould, brilliant scientist, has been talking to a dude in a rubber suit for hours now, without any answer, and he just lets him into his building. Good thing it's a Nanosuit and not a gimp suit or Gould would be in serious trouble right now...

In the Crysis series, we've always strived to give you cool events to experience but up until Crysis 3 the character you played was little more than a gun for others to tell you where to point. From a PLOT perspective, maybe that worked, since it's an alien invasion story about a ninja with a machine gun, but from a STORY perspective it was just so-so. For me, this is because STORY is about characters and PLOT is about events. When the event moves the action forward, it's a plot driven-game. When the characters and their internal choices, wants and needs move the action forward, it's a story driven-game- regardless of whether those choices are really changing anything or not.

We wanted to make a change in Crysis 3 and have the characters drive the story. Even though the game was a series of levels that you had to go through in a particular order (thus eliminating that level of choice), we decided that the level loading screens would be based on a) giving you the high level task for the level and b) conveying the wishes and concerns of the characters. Claire does not say (in Fields) "go to the bunker and blow shit up". Instead, she tells you where you need to go, but also conveys a certain amount of personal interest and concern for someone within your group. In the opening scene to Island, Psycho's not concerned about the Ceph chasing them or blowing up the Portal- he's grieving for his lost loved one and doubting that he's got the ability to make a difference in the world without being a super-hero-suited guy. The scene also revolves around the impassioned speech of Prophet about how he had to sacrifice, how he would want what Psycho has, etc.


This required us to have a voice that was consistent throughout the game. Prophet was a character with his own wants and needs. While you controlled where he shot the gun, he was more than just a weapon. He was a man who had sacrificed much, and who has doubts about if it was worth it or not. He interacts with the other characters in the story and challenges them, and in turn is challenged by them. He doesn't just get told to go somewhere and blow something up, he has particular wants and needs and his choices drive the story forward. This means we NEEDED Prophet to have a voice. We needed the conflict between the characters as we wanted them to drive the story forward as much as possible within the constraints of the genre/style. The game needed to tread a fine line between what the game design was asking you to do next, and why the Prophet character would want to do that. Looking back at the game, if the Rebels told Prophet to leave the Ceph alone and come help them finish off the CEll Corporation in another city, would he have? Hell no. That's not who Prophet is. That's not the mission he, personally, is on. We know that because he talks about it, it's his quest. Would Nomad have? As far as we could tell, yes, because we don't understand Nomad's motivations aside from "Blow Up Object A".

In this way the game is USING CHARACTER to drive the First Person Story forward.

But lets say we have a hypothetical game where we want the player to be a person with wants and needs, but we don't want him to have an audible voice. What the hell do we do then? Well, we need to give a reason, from the protagonist's point of view, why he wouldn't talk. Let's say you're "Guy Roberts" and you're a rebel soldier fighting  in a resistance movement against a foreign military corporation that has taken over your land. Let's try to build a rough idea of who this guy is:

  • Well, you had a mother and father- you're not a futuristic clone.
  • You went to..."Polk High School" and you enjoy jazz.
  • You're favorite color

Ok, great- now we have an idea about who "Guy Roberts" is. We're now going to drop him into this world and you're going to play him. But wait! Why doesn't he talk? How do we, without ignoring the fact that he doesn't talk (the elephant in the room), tie something about him or the story into this for it to make sense?

  • Option 1Give an outside reason for the player's character to not talk. For instance: Guy and Doug are about to head into the resistance headquarters. Doug looks back at Guy and says "Look, I know you're not one for chit chat, but still....just...let me do all the talking, ok? These guys...they're a bit jumpy since the last guy...well...just keep your mouth shut, ok?" The player gives Doug a big thumbs up and Doug opens the door. Now there's a reason the Player doesn't talk- he's been told not to. It's safe from there to have a First Person Cinematic play out where people talk about him, around him, etc and the player says nothing. Sure, the player isn't actually effecting change, but at least there's a logical reason why he wouldn't open his mouth.
  • Option 2: Maybe there's something physically different with the Player, and this is the reason he can't speak. Perhaps he was a rebel leader and an outspoken member of the alliance, and was captured prior to the game. The ultra-mega-corporation has tortured him and to rid him of his ability to mobilize troops by way of his rousing speeches, they cut out his tongue! Now there's a reason he doesn't speak! But can he still communicate and effect change? Yes. How? Sign Language. He can either use full-on American Sign Language to try to communicate, or simply gestures. He could even then have a guy or met a guy, who speaks sign language! Now we have the beginning of a story here- Guy, so used to his effectiveness as an orator, finds himself injured and alone in a strange place. No one seems to understand him anymore, and his desperate need to lead his people to victory becomes a mere shadow- how can he do that when he can't motivate them? When he can't speak? AS the game goes on, Guy finds that a voice is something we all have, whether it is audible or not. He rises to again to lead his people for victory, proving once and for all to the mega-corporation that while you may silence the man, you will never silence his will!

Wow. I get goosebumps just thinking about that!

So, what's the take-away here? When you're making a First Person game, you need to make a choice as to how the story is moved forward, and how you deal with the issue of "Voice" for the Player Character. Each choice is valid, but only you, as the writer or the creator, know how you want the Player to take this journey with you. So take the time and really work it out. There's not really a right and wrong choice, but the choice you make will determine the flavor of your game from the very start.

Best of luck, and I hope to see you back here for the next installment of the "Curious Case of First Person Storytelling- Part Two- Camera and POV" sometime in the future.

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Theresa Catalano
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Frankly, I don't think that first person games lend themselves very well to storytelling in general. Stories always play better with a main character that you can see, and making that character invisible really hurts the connection the player is supposed to feel with that character.

Lihim Sidhe
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100% Agree. However, if there was a story constructed around a person losing their peripheral vision and losing the ability to move their eyes then 1st Person Perspective would be the perfect solution.

If Occulus Rift takes off I may end up eating my words. If that does turn out to be the case I will gladly be wrong.

As it stands, 3rd person. And maybe clever uses of 2nd person (I'm looking at you Siren)

Katy Smith
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In general, I like 3rd person games better for storytelling. However, two games I would put in my top 10 storytelling games of all time are first-person: Myst and Gone Home.

Luis Guimaraes
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The player can feel a connection to the world. Everything else that tells stories already tell stories that are all about characters. Video-games can do what those can't.

Why settle for just doing yet the same thing everybody else has been doing for millennia? Why be just one more in the crowd? Where's the ambition, the challenge, the achievement in simply copying lots and lots and lots of others?

Theresa Catalano
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It's really hard to have a compelling story without compelling characters.

If a game can find a way to pull it off, great. But to be honest with you, 99& of video games don't have talented enough writers to be able to break basic storytelling rules and get away with it.

Beatrice Korte
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I like Half Life very much!

Steve Peters
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First person definitely doesn't lend itself to traditional narratives. It's jarring to see the camera go from 1st person to a cinematic cut scene where your previously silent protagonist is now a fully fleshed out character. Story works well in Deus Ex because of 3rd person dialogue scenes, and, IMHO, even better in Human Revolution because using the cover system allows us to see the character during natural gameplay, thus keeping him familiar as a character within gameplay, as well as during story focused segments.
While giving characters a reason to shut up or an excuse to avoid giving them a voice in the first place is a fairly novel idea, I don't think I'd like to see contrivances such as those become the norm in an entire perspective of game story telling.
Games are different from film and literature, all three of them being mediums I enjoy stories in, but all three work best with different methods. In some cases, it's best to let the player play as themselves, with the only motivation being fight or die, in other cases, it's great to give them personal reasons to go up against their superiors. There are no formulas for weaving a narrative in a game.

Shaun Pena
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A lot of people like third person for story telling. I understand why. For me I feel a bit different though. As a kid playing Doom, and later Duke Nukem 3D, my mind was just blown away by the sense of immersion that I felt while playing. Even with the most minimal attempt at adding story with DOOM, I still felt like I was that guy in the game, blowing away hell aliens or whatever they were.
3rd person games ARE more like a movie. I'm being told a story, even if it is an RPG. But movies are a medium that works perfectly that way. The art is quite refined at this point. With 3rd person games however, it just seems impossible for me personally to reach the same level of immersion that I can get when I feel like my head is actually the character's head.
I finally played through Far Cry 3 recently. It was impressive how they handled this task. That voice actor recorded a LOT of dialogue. It was not a perfect experience but damn near close! I hope other games makers attempt something as ambitious in the coming years. Also, I am very excited about that Occulus Rift!

Theresa Catalano
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By "immersion" I suppose you mean role-playing that you are the character, correct? That's what people usually mean by "immersion" as far as I can tell.

I don't think that has anything to do with crafting a good narrative. I think the opposite is probably true... the less storytelling you are being delivered by a writer, the more able you are to role-play your character. Having a static story told by a writer is always going to interfere with your own "story." The two ideas are inherently at odds.

Tobias Horak
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I would have to disagree, depending of course on your definition of a "static" story. I wouldn't underestimate a player's ability to "step into someone else's shoes". For example, if one looks to Tell Tale's games (walking dead, etc.), a lot of people get heavily invested in the characters. Granted they come out with a separation between character and self. When it comes down to actually recounting their experiences, however, people usually revert to the first person: "I chose this option, then I did this".

On the other hand, in an open ended game such as an elder scrolls title, players might do the opposite. When playing, they'll roleplay based on what their crazed werewolf might do, as opposed to what they personally might do.

Hopefully I'm being coherent, running on lack of sleep! Would actually be interesting to see / do a study on how different players roleplay "fixed" vs. "open" characters. That way we could make more educated decisions on this topic (depending on the design goals of course!)

Shaun Pena
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By "immersion" I mean a full suspension of disbelief, an ignorance of the real world and, my complete and undivided attention.

Theresa Catalano
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Tobias: Right, but there's still a clear divide there. There's the "narrative" of what you do, the choices you make. And there's a "narrative" told by the developer. The former is your experience playing the game, and the latter is a story. Your experience in a game can be related to someone else as a story, but it's different from storytelling within a game.

You ALWAYS have an experience playing a game, any game, regardless of whether there's narrative. Even playing something like Mario, you are constantly making decisions, and those decisions can be related in the form a story. But that's a different concept from actual narrative within a game.

Shaun: Oh, I see. So basically you just mean you're really absorbed in the game. That's how I tend to use the word immersion too... so I can be immersed playing Mario or Tetris just as easily as any other game. In fact, those games can be even more immersive than a realistic game.

Tobias Horak
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Not sure why separating the two concepts makes sense with the goal being to create the most "effective" (as subjective as THAT is) first person narrative possible. In my consumer experience, some of the stronger narratives have worked because the player experience narrative and the written story of the game work in unison, regardless of the balance towards one or the other. Is it fair to say that a game like Far Cry 3 achieves something near the center? Narrative driven by the feeling created from the gameplay balanced with the strong, linear, character-driven narrative arc.

With some sleep in me, I agree with your original premise. What I'd mostly like to challenge is the idea that "the two ideas are inherently at odds". I think strong examples can be given in which the player can be shifted in one direction or another within a single game depending on context, so that both the implicit (in-head) and explicit narrative can work together.


Theresa Catalano
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Well, I think we're both right, to an extent. By "the two ideas that are inherently at odds," I was referring to the player's own narrative versus the writer's narrative. When you make a series of decisions and that becomes a "story" for you, that's a narrative you've created yourself. You have control over that. Narrative delivered by a writer is something you experience passively.

Clearly these two ideas are at odds. Of course, that doesn't mean the interplay between the two can't be fun. That's the entire basis of DND and other pen and paper games, for example. The storytelling is a type of improv between the players and the dungeon master. The dungeon master plays the part of the writer, but the characters are essentially "written" by other people, which is beyond the writer's control.

The thing to keep in mind is that improv storytelling does not usually result in great narratives, in a conventional sense. With multiple people writing a story, with no clear vision, the narrative will be muddled. But the point of roleplaying isn't to tell a "good" story in that sense... it's a social experience and a fun exercise.

This is also true with video games. The more control a player has over the narrative, the more muddled it's going to be. But the tradeoff is that the player feels more involved with the story. Unfortunately this never works as well as in a pen and paper game because a video game's story is static, there is no social interaction.

If we're *just* talking about how to improve narrative, the best way is to take control out of the player's hands and put it all in the writer's hands. Great narratives also need great characters, and the main character is critically important. If the main character is supposed to be "you" the player, then the most critical piece of storytelling is removed from the writer's arsenal. That's very damaging to the ability to craft a good story.

That's only if we're *just* talking about how to improve the narrative. If things like player agency and choice are very important to you, if you prefer the idea of the player crafting their own narrative, then maybe it's worth the cost. But make no mistake... these two ideas are very much at odds.

Michael Joseph
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90% roller coaster, 10% story.

Tobias Horak
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For now, I only want to comment on one point and offer an alternate perspective. Providing an in-narrative reason for the lack of a character's speech could in fact have the opposite of the intended affect. In half-life 2, the fact that Gordon never speaks is even mocked at points. Even more obviously at the start of portal 2. For me, both of these games functioned far better in regards to the silent protagonist than those games which attempt to explain away obvious "flaws" in the game's internal consistency.

The perspective I'd like to offer is this: it doesn't always matter if the STORY is inconsistent, so long as the game "universe" / whole-narrative is consistent. To clarify, Gordon and Chell work because it they are accepted as facts of the world, not as abnormal and in need of special narrative treatment. By calling out the character's inability to do certain things, you're doing just that: bringing it to the front of the player's attention in a way that is meant to be taken seriously, rather than let slide along with the chest high walls and your ability to jump 2 meters high.

Looking forward to part 2 ^^

Theresa Catalano
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Gordon works as a character because the story is goofy, primarily. Mocking his inability to speak just fits the tone of the game. The story isn't meant to be taken seriously, so flaws in internal consistency don't matter as much.

Chell works as a character primarily because she isn't a character, and Portal doesn't have much in the way of character interaction. It's not really trying for more than a very basic narrative where things happen to you the player.

The main reason the "narrative" works in those two games is because they are unambitious in their storytelling. They don't rely on storytelling because they are both strong games.

Steven Bender
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Very true, and it is a constant debate with developers and publishers when the developer wants to make "First Person Cut-scenes". That was the point of the final part of the blog- to offer an alternative idea- it might not be the right one, but knowing it's not the right one for your project helps you land on what IS the right one, and WHY.

First Person Cinematics are usually used to "keep the player in the action". This helps the viewer to feel the events are happening to them, not to an outside agent. But in adding a voice, the wants and needs of the agent and the player may be two separate things. Does that mean you shouldn't use a First Person cinematic and have that agent say something? When there is a drama happening, does it make sense that the player just stands around silently?

These are all questions we ask ourselves every single time we make a First Person game. "Do we want 3rd person cutscenes" is Number One on our list of things to solve with concern to the narrative in the game, because it begins to shape the product right from that question.

Theresa Catalano
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3rd person cutscenes are a tried and true method of delivering a narrative. It may be a boring method of delivering story, but it works. The player will be better able to identify with their character if they can see them on screen.

1st person cutscenes is a much tougher proposition. The problem is that many people who play 1st person think of themselves as the character, and you can't actually include the player as a character in the story except in a limited way. Either you have to do a million multiple choice questions, (which is still not a good solution because the writer chooses the questions) or you have to have the main character be "mute" why other characters just sort of talk *at* him. Neither are very elegant solutions, and limit what you can do as a writer.

Many first person games are able to have narratives that work primarily because they have unambitious narratives. It would be interesting to see if a first person game can pull of a complicated and interesting narrative someday.

Steven Bender
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This post was about how to consider the use of voice in First Person cinematics. It is not a debate on whether or not 1st person is better or 3rd person is. You seem to be very passionate and adamant about your dislike of 1st person narrative as a way to tell a meaningful story, and that's fine, but that's not what this post is about. It's about looking at the usage of voice and some of the possible reasons and considerations behind it.

Many games who have a First Person character choose to have a First Person viewpoint (physical). These games, whether right or not, will often try to tell a story and give that player a character. The question then becomes how much the character vocalizes- does he speak? Does he grunt when he gets hit? IT also begins to ask the question as to what role the Player is in- is it actually a support role? Is it a lead role? When the player's character can not be seen, who does the audience identify with- still him or do they try to identify with the next person whose face is visible on the screen and seems to have a goal that carries through the game?

Your point is more related to an article on "3rd Person or POV cut-scenes in a First Person game", and I can certainly do one of those- it would be fun to explore such a thing. If you'd like to be a part of that, mail me at my website and we can maybe figure something out.

That Hollywood hasn't produced a good number of POV movies would be interesting to look at. Is this because 2 hours of a single POV would be boring without something to do? Is it because we, as an audience of films, are pre-disposed to identify with a physical person? In a First Person GAME narrative, what IS the person? The hands? Are there ways to show the First Person character without kicking to a non-related camera (yes, there is)? In a book like "The Hunger Games", which is told in First Person, is there a way that an interactive media could make a compelling First Person Narrative with cut-scenes in First Person?

All that would be fun to explore together, if you're game.

Theresa Catalano
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A movie did come out recently called "Maniac." It's a remake of an 80's slasher movie, however they did something interesting with it, they shot the entire thing in first person from the point of view of the killer. The killer is played by Ewam McGreggor, and you never see his face except in the mirror a couple of times. I haven't seen it yet, but apparently it's pretty good.

Steven Bender
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Will give it a shot this weekend. Thanks for the heads-up.

Gregory MacMartin
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Shameless plug, but seriously, anyone who is interested in first-person storytelling needs to play this: