With developments in graphics and sound reaching their inevitable plateau, games of the future will have to think more carefully about their characters and narratives. I think games at the minute are at the level of your standard Hollywood summer blockbusters with lots of big explosions and thrilling car chases, but with characters predictably two dimensional and emotionally retarded. I enjoy this form of storytelling for the cheap disposable things they are, but they rarely leave a lasting impression.
This isn't to say the game world is without some interesting pieces. One I remember quite clearly is Max Payne. The game had your usual action packed gun fights etc, but they were presented in an intelligent way. The narrative followed a very disjointed path, switching between dream sequences, flashbacks and even drug induced hallucinations. This gave the whole experience a very unsettling feeling, but also kept your attention fixed. The character of Max was carefully unravelled during cut scenes and character dialog. He became a deeply flawed and emotionally damaged three dimensional human being. Something that kept you going through the game was a desire to find out what exactly was going on with him. It reminded me, in parts, of a mixture between Christopher Nolan's Memento, the Coen brothers Fargo and a Tarantino crime movie. Just now I’ve listed 3 of my favourite film makers. I’m a big fan of their use of non linear narratives and rich characters. Their stories unfold in such a way that keeps the viewers compelled and their characters are always rich individuals that make some for relation. Most are deeply flawed in some way and have their own demons to resolve, just like any one of us I guess.