From Storyboard to Game Design: The Shared Narrative Structures of Films and Video Games

In recent years, interactive media such as video games have emerged as a
powerful form of storytelling just as effective as traditional cinema. While
films and video games appear to be entirely different mediums, when we dig a
little deeper, we find that they share more in common than meets the eye. Both
utilize the magic of storytelling to create immersive experiences, and both
have the power to evoke profound emotions from their audience.

To understand this better, we must take a closer look at how the narrative
structure of films and video games share similarities and are interconnected,
focusing on their process of storyboarding, character development, and

Visualising the Tale

In the realm of cinema, storyboarding is a vital step. It involves creating
a visual representation of the film’s storyline, scene by scene. These drawings
serve as a roadmap for the production team, helping them envision how the
script translates into visual content.

Similarly, in game design, storyboarding is equally crucial. Game developers
use this tool to plan out the sequences of the game, providing a clear vision
of the game’s progression. Take, for instance, the well-crafted game, Gonzo’s Quest; although not a film, this title employs
the concept of storyboarding to create a captivating and coherent narrative.
The journey of the central character, Gonzo, as he navigates the challenges in
his quest for the lost city of El Dorado unfolds in an engaging, cinematic
manner offering a Mayan adventure full of unbreakable wilds and cascading
reels. The storyboarding technique aids in creating a seamless flow of events,
making the player feel as though they’re part of an interactive movie.

Development: Heroes, Villains, and Everything in Between

Just as compelling characters form the crux of a good film, video games also
rely heavily on character development to engage players. Games, like films,
introduce us to a range of characters – protagonists, antagonists, and
supporting characters – each with their own unique traits and arcs. As the
narrative progresses, these characters evolve, adding depth to the storyline.

Take, for example, The Last of Us, a renowned video
that has been praised for its remarkable character development and has
recently been developed into a TV series. In this game, we follow the journey
of Joel and Ellie, two characters each with unique personalities, thrown
together by circumstances in a post-apocalyptic world. As the story unfolds,
players witness the touching and complex evolution of their relationship, going
through a spectrum of emotions. Their growth as characters isn’t defined by
their actions alone but also by the bonds they form with each other and how
they respond to the world around them. This underlines how the principles of
character development in filmmaking translate seamlessly into the realm of
gaming, creating a richer, more immersive experience for players.

Crafting Immersive Environments

One of the key factors that contributes to the success of a film, small-screen
show, or game is the world they create. The more immersive and detailed this
world is, the more it draws the audience or players in. Filmmakers spend
considerable time and effort building these worlds, crafting each detail to
enhance the storyline. In games, this aspect is equally, if not more,
important. Detailed game environments allow players to interact with their
surroundings, enhancing their immersion and engagement with the game’s

For instance, let’s look at the iconic Star Wars franchise. Both in the
original films and the subsequent video
, the immersive universe is a character in its own right. From the
sandy dunes of Tatooine to the dense forests of Endor, each setting is
meticulously detailed and plays a crucial role in the narrative. This level of
detail in world-building demonstrates the influence of cinematic techniques on
game design. The effort to make these worlds feel alive and real, combined with
a compelling narrative, truly immerses players in a way that other media can’t

In summary, the shared narrative structures between films and video games
underline the convergence of these mediums. As we observe the processes of
storyboarding, character development, and world-building, we realise how these elements are equally critical in both
domains. Video games embody these film storytelling techniques, fostering a
deeply engaging, interactive experience. As technology continues to evolve, we
can expect to see further intertwining of these mediums, offering us even more
captivating stories to lose ourselves in.




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