Story in IF

@Katz - That is what I said. I never said you have to make your story fit the Hero’s Journey. So I don’t know what you’re getting at?

Well, back here…

…you said that essentially all stories do fit the hero’s journey, which is a large part of what I have been contesting. Given your repeated use of the word “good” in reference to the hero’s journey, such as here…

…you are implying that good stories generally follow the hero’s journey, and that therefore, in order to be good, a story needs to follow the hero’s journey. So you have essentially said that stories must follow the hero’s journey.

But if that wasn’t what you were trying to say at all, then what are you trying to say? How is the hero’s journey “a useful lens for plotting out and analyzing different stories” if a) you don’t mean that the stories should follow the journey and b) the journey is as nebulous as “a change of state or fortune in somebody’s life”?

Wow, you are tenacious! But I think I already made my point clear enough. Being drawn further into a semantic argument is pointless.

In my Intro to Mass Media course that I’m currently taking, we recently discussed the true story of Randy Pausch, a computer science professor who was dying of cancer when he gave a “last lecture” about achieving one’s childhood dreams, which was turned into a popular self-help book. As the class was discussing Mr. Pausch’s last lecture, several students said that he didn’t really deserve all the fame he got from the media, because there have been many people faced with similar terminal illness who do not have never had the opportunities to see their deepest dreams come to life. However, I think we reached a consensus that stories like Mr. Pausch’s absorb publicity because people want to see a hero they can sympathize with, someone who has it far worse than they do but managed to achieve the important things in life. Here’s the link to the YouTube video of the lecture:

Although I’ve never formally studied literature or mythology and may never do so, I think this true story demonstrates Campbell’s monomyth. Not only novels and movies, but also many nonfiction books sell because of the universal appeal of the Hero. The reason Mr. Pausch’s story can’t help those terminally ill people who are not as advantaged as he had been is that Pausch is only a hero. His story is too specific for everyone to be inspired by it. There have been many other heroes in literature and media throughout the ages, some of which were real, and some of which expressed true universal insight despite being fictional creations of the imagination. I don’t know about Campbell’s work, but I think there is a common inspirational element to all stories of all times.

We can use this principal to great effect in IF, because the player becomes the Hero, sharing in his or her transcendence. This can work well in games with a characterized protagonist, as in novels and movies, but it also can work to great effect in games with a generalized protagonist, such as So Far and Blue Lacuna.