I feel strongly about stories in games.
I really feel that games need to move away from traditional linear storytelling, i.e. watching a cut scene. Also I’m not much interested in scripted stories.
I find emergent stories that are born out of artificial intelligence and from emergent dynamic gameplay and player controlled experiences far more exciting.
Now I would say that you had a point with regards to games that offer dialogue options, because then it feels like you’re controlling where the story goes.
But again I feel far more connected to a character that I’ve created, and that I have control over.
For example — in the first Fable game —
I married an NPC, and I tested out the AI behaviours and responses. I beat my wife and after some time she handed back the wedding ring to me and said she didn’t love me anymore. Divorced.
And then lived in our house with another woman and her kid paying me rent.
Whenever I would see her around town, she would say “I hate you, don’t talk to me”
I killed her… One night. The kid ran out screaming into the night and brought back the town guard.
At the time — that crap blew my mind!
It’s a bit dark. But it was an emergent story that came out of the gameplay and artificial simulation of the game world. And it had much more of a powerful impact and resonance. It was my own story. And as such it stayed with me after all these years.
Similar to when I used to play Skyrim. There was an elf NPC, companion that I had follow me for a large portion of the game.
I had kitted him out with the best gear and armour, and he had saved my life on more than one on occasion.
So at the Battle of the windhelm, after the smoke cleared and the battle was over, I could not find him.
I walked back down through the streets, with the bodies of the slain all over the place. Eventually I found his body and it was a moment of genuine emotional poignancy. I felt the loss.
For me this is the special source.
This is where I feel video games have the ability to tell stories of the kind that are not possible in books or movies.