In October 2006, the editors of Gamasutra asked its readership of game industry professionals to chime in and vote for which game brought storytelling forward in the biggest way, from any genre (text adventure through action title to RPG or sim and beyond), and from the early days of video gaming right through to the present day. We were looking for any game which in some way moved, astounded, or engrossed the player through its plot and the way the game evolves through it - and has specifically advanced game storytelling in the largest way. Specifically, we asked:
"Which video game has made the biggest 'quantum leap' in terms of storytelling, and why?"
On the following pages, we'll first present the "honorable mentions" - games that, while certainly innovative and important, did not receive enough votes to make it into the top echelon.
Following this, we'll present the top five best storytellers voted for by our readers, in reverse order, ending with the overall recipient of Gamasutra's third Quantum Leap Award, which received the largest amount of votes from game professionals.
No other game before The Sims had taken as many options and choices and made it so friendly to all all ages, sexes, and social groups in order for them to create their own families, lives, and neighborhoods in which to tell their own stories. User-centric storytelling is the most powerful form that we have long after the initial narrative dies away. People always love telling fellow game players what they did here or what they accomplished differently over there. Pure narrative and plot only goes so far, but The Sims took the extra step and delivered the story-making tools to the players.
Ben Wari, Hot Thoth Productions
Forcing the user to build the story piecemeal through personal logs and snippets of information throughout the game created a varied experience for each user. This drove the player to fill the holes in the story with the next log and their own assumptions and imagination. I remember playing System Shock 2 years after playing it for the first time and had a markedly different reaction due to changes in my own perspective. Phenomenal.
Matt Knowles, EA Chicago