Gamers Don’t Remember Plots

Riot Games, the developers of League of Legends, have taken to the stage at this years Game Developers Conference (GDC) to talk about research (commissioned by Microsoft) revealing that plot is largely irrelevant to most gamers. According to Riot, gamers care more about characters, and remember things their characters did as opposed to specific plot points in the games they play.

“Players really hardly remember the plots of the games that they play. When they were asked, ‘tell me the plot of your favorite movie,’ they did it at length, and very accurately. When they were asked, ‘tell me the plot of your favorite TV show,’ they did it at length, and very accurately. ‘Tell me the plot of your favorite game.’ Not so much at length, not so accurate.”

They then went on to say “game characters were consistently remembered, but not necessarily for their role in the plot.” They reasoned that this was because unlike other mediums, such as books and movies, gamers are more than just observers. They’re concentrating on playing as well as observing, but can’t provide enough mental bandwidth to do the latter. This, the developers said, led to a natural question for developers.

““So the question is, how much does the third act pay off, that you’re putting so much work into, as you’re trying to structure your plot, intricately. How much does that matter, when the fact is that a majority of your players are never even going to see it?”

Their conclusion was that plot in games is highly overrated. This point is, perhaps, debatable. For instance, The Last of Us, which we scored quite highly, recently won a BAFTA for its writing. You could also argue that their argument is largely self serving. League of Legends is hardly known for its plot, after all.

What do you think? Do the developers have a point? Do you think story only matters in some games? Or do you think a strong story makes a great game great? Sound off in the comments below!

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