Two of the most fun parts of writing, no matter for what medium, are worldbuilding and character development.

These two things are the cornerstone of ideation. You're pulling people from thin air and populating a world of your design. You're making places people want to immerse themselves in, and creating characters they empathize with, are interested in, and sometimes even want to know or get to be. 

This all matters so much in every storytelling medium, especially video games.

Check out this video from Story Mode where narrative director John Gonzalez helps them examine authored player characters, the benefits of a motivated protagonist, and how Horizon character Aloy’s personal journey is connected to the mystery of the story world.

Video Game Heroes Should Influence the Story's World

Horizon: Forbidden West is the latest title in the Horizon series. It's an action role-playing game developed by Guerrilla Games and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment.

Players step into the world playing as Aloy, taking on a story that's woven from love and loss, making for a very compelling adventure. Set in an open world located in post-apocalyptic California, Utah, and Nevada, the game explores the mysterious frontier known as the Forbidden West.

If you love games where you get attached to the character and swept up in the storytelling, this one is for you. But what struck me most about playing a game like this is how much the storytelling allows your character to change the world she's in, and how crucial that is not only to gameplay, but to your enjoyment.

This dystopian future could just be a backdrop for a bunch of levels, but instead, it's a place that amplifies the arc of the characters and puts Aloy in a bunch of different scenarios that force us to arc with her. It's done so elegantly and subtly in this game that you forget this is a tenet of all storytelling. 

Your world and your main character need to be interacting. The world needs to force the main character into tough situations. And in turn, your main character needs to act in a way that challenges the world. This creates drama and stakes inherent to the storytelling. 

This push and pull between character and the world gets people invested right away. It's especially important in video games because people want to feel like they're not just playing a person, but causing something to happen by embodying their journey. When it comes to this kind of writing, it occurs on two different levels. You're mapping out the character's arc, but you're also mapping the ripple effects it has on the society they inhabit. 

This kind of layering can help you amplify the theme, tone, and every other aspect of storytelling you wish. 

Have you played games missing this? Was it hard to get invested? Have you seen movies where it feels like the characters' actions never matter? Did it bore you? What are some examples of things that do this kind of writing well? 

Let us know your thoughts in the comments. 

Source: Story Mode