What makes a good digital story? Most people might say plot, characters, or conflict and they would be correct. Today though, I’m going to explain why I think point of view is important in the Unresolved podcast “New Mexico State Penitentiary Riots” and in the gameplay story, “[Text] A Summer Story.”
Point of view is the explaining or telling of something, the reason we want to invest time in it, and most importantly it is the guiding voice I crave that, to me, makes a story good. Point of view can be fictional or factual, as with the “New Mexico State Penitentiary Riots” it is a factual based story about the riots that occurred inside this state of the art facility. The narrator told the story in a third person point of view, in an unbiased way because he was not a part of the original story. He had gathered facts about the situation and just wanted to tell you about this “ heartless and inhuman” occurrence. In his telling of the story he used descriptors such as “worst and most violent” and “hundreds hurt...dozens dead." He chooses his words carefully, like when he is telling you about there being "lots of drugs...Valium and Demerol, which possibly led to the gruesomeness." He wasn't there to persuade that this was or wasn't the reason for the riots. His point of view was fact based and yet he makes you feel something, which for each individual could be different. Some may turn it off at the beginning when he warns of the physical and sexual violence, others, as with myself, may feel skeptical but intrigued to learn more. Point of view has an emotional impact on you and you become invested in the story or the words being used to relay the message.
Point of view is, also, important based on which character or person tells the story. Although, the “New Mexico State Penitentiary Riots” is factual, it is and would be a completely different story told from each inmates perspective or from the guards that were or were not directly involved. Someone else that didn't see what was going on would have a totally different perspective and wouldn't be able to tell such a gripping story. The factual based third party point of view in this story is what made it interesting, compelling, and what drew me in. Point of view was important in this story because he gave you a lot of back information, stated facts and details without being gruesome, and was able, I think, to give a clear visualization of how and why this happened.
Okay, so now I’m going to jump to “[Text] A Summer Story.” which is a psychological, mystery story. I didn’t choose this story originally to compare to, but I am going to use this gameplay story, for the contrast factor. This story, narration, point of view, is not like the factual based riot story. This one is fictional, it has shorter narration in the form of on screen text tags and a mock phone screen displaying back and forth message conversations. There is no verbal narration in the story, other then that of the main characters voice. This story uses different elements such as, text, cut scenes, sounds, and reader interaction. By using different elements and creating an environment where you the "player" get to choose different interactions and outcomes, you get emotionally invested.
Essentially, it is shaping your experience, it’s pulling you in and you are participating in the point of view. This is a limited, single point of view, where something is being observed with certain aspects being disclosed or visible, which leaves you questioning, wondering, nervous, scared, and possibly excited with anticipation, depending on how you perceive and process the unknown. It starts out with an image of an empty train station, hearing the sound of a train station, seeing the words on screen and hearing "Oh no...I'd better not miss the train" in a girls voice. You are confused, or at least I was. I wasn't
sure what was going on, who was there, or
http://www.sakevisual.com/summerstory.html where they were going. It hooks you that way, with the limited view, by making you feel confused, intrigued, apprehensive, and filled with curiosity to know more. A few sentences are there for you to read, you get to read the messages coming in from her mom and another character, that you have no idea who it is. The limited point of view in this digital gameplay story only gives you selected information, yet it is just enough to draw you in and make you become a part of the story. You want to see where your choices will lead and whether you will get more information about who you are, where you are going, and what is happening. In this story, the not knowing and the desire to find out more is what makes you become emotionally invested.
Point of view, whether it is a book, a visual novel, gameplay, or an audio story, is what creates the visual in your head, a sort of “reality” for the time being, it is what makes us understand the motivation behind why the story is being told. The author, the narrator, the reader/listener all play a role in what makes a story good. It is the combination of these, the words and the way they are put together and perceived, that determine whether the story is good or not. It is what shapes the emotional and visual experience you will have, and what ultimately, to me, makes a digital story good.
The quote below seemed fitting so I am including it as part of my story.
Unresolved Podcast: New Mexico State Penitentiary Riots