In playing Game Dev Tycoon for the last couple of days (Steam Sale FTW), I’ve come to notice that, according to the game, the story and narrative matters more to certain types of games. I believe that the narrative is one of the most important things that a game developer needs. The narrative is what draws people in and keeps people immersed in the storyline.
In Jonathan Ostenson’s Exploring the Boundaries of Narrative: Video Games in the English Classroom (http://www.ncte.org/library/nctefiles/resources/journals/ej/1026-jul2013/ej1026exploring.pdf); Ostenson reviews the effects of video games and their ability to project a narrative to a group of students. The students start out playing an IF game, a text based game similar to turn page adventure books. Ostenson then follows up with his students reviewing the storyline in multiple games. They review the characters, conflict, plot and story.
In a story from a book, they suggested, you might become invested in a character and his or her choices, but not to the same degree if you are the character making the choices and dealing with the outcomes (even if those consequences are virtual).
Ostenson’s students determined that, since you make character decisions in certain games, the player is more invested in the game’s narrative as compared to a linear storyline. Compare the Harry Potter Novels and the Bioshock Series, both are literary masterpieces and both do a great job of immersing a reader/player. If you had to pick between the “Would You Kindly” scene or Voldemort’s return in Goblet of Fire, which would you consider more immersive?