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Dreamfall Chapters dev defends the power of storytelling in video games

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Speaking at the Rezzed conference this weekend, game designer Ragnar Tornquist disagreed with director George Lucas' statements from earlier this month suggesting games carry no emotional weight in the way they tell stories, reports Eurogamer.

Tornquist, whose credits include The Longest Journey and The Secret World as well as recently-Kickstarted title Dreamfall Chapters, disagreed with Lucas' comments that video games have yet to find storytelling success, arguing that they still need a "huge hit" that will be "the Titanic of the game industry."

"The big game of the next five years will be a game where you empathise very strongly with the characters and it's aimed at women and girls," Lucas said in a conversation with Stephen Spielberg published by Variety. "They like empathetic games. That will be a huge hit and as a result that will be the Titanic of the game industry, where suddenly you've done an actual love story or something and everybody will be like 'where did that come from?' Because you've got actual relationships instead of shooting people."

Tornquist called back to Lucas' statements, responding that they made him angry.

"Games are where storytelling is being experimented on the most," he said. "Take Journey, one of the best games I've ever played — it tells an amazing story through pictures and sound that you just wouldn't see in a TV show. It reminds me of a few weeks ago when George Lucas and Steven Spielberg were having a conversation about games. Lucas said that 'the second you get the controller something turns off in the heart, and it becomes a sport'.

"It made me so angry because I'm currently playing The Last of Us... I'm not going to spoil anything — but the beginning of the game sets up this great emotional connection," he added. "The controller turns on and your heart does not turn off. You feel desperate."

Tornquist believes that storytelling mechanics in games will continue to evolve.

"Linear storytelling is never going to go away," he said. "I think the most interesting experiences are the ones where developers try and blend it with the emergent player story and combine the two."

Watch the full Rezzed panel featuring Tornquist here.