Epic Games lead level designer Jim Brown would like to see videogames move away from three-act narrative structures in favor of emergent storytelling, the developer told Polygon in an interview during GDC Europe.
“The one thing that separates us as a medium is that we’re very, very interactive,” Brown told Polygon. “So I wanted to focus in on that, and see how we were different, and kind of find some ways that we can use that to separate ourselves from those other forms of media.”
Brown cited poetry and paintings as storytelling mediums that break Aristotle’s classic three-act structure (that every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end). As far as Brown is concerned, Aristotle’s structure is outdated and holding videogames back from finding their own footing as a unique, interactive medium.
“I’m suggesting that perhaps we should create an opportunity for the story to happen,” Brown added. “However, the player chooses to go through that, is what that story will be. Whether it’s a tightly linear level or linear storyline—that’s fine. You can still have emergent opportunities and things that happen in that world, just the same way you can have a really cool story that happens in a 10-minute multiplayer match.”
The full interview, conducted by Griffin McElroy, is available in video form at Polygon.