Have you ever played a game just to get to the next cut scene? It's a bit like watching a marathon of your favorite TV show, or taping your eyelids open late at night to reach another chapter in your favorite book.
I can remember as far back as Final Fantasy IV on the SNES being absolutely magnetized to the story bits, even if they were only being acted out by 8-bit sprites who spoke through captions. And now, with technology as it is, I'm further entranced by games like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic where competent voice acting and compelling developments keep me glued to the screen for hours.
Coming up, are titles like Mass Effect where my decisions will affect the story Ė effectively bridging the gap between role playing and fabrications. Some developers obviously have a grasp on the story interactivity needs of our generation. The same kids that grew up borrowing Choose Your Own Adventure books from the school library are seeing their cravings evolve.
One thing worries me though. Subservient as game play is to an encompassing cinematic experience, it could be that game studios are trying so hard to bring us striking scenes that we lose any semblance of control over them. Take Microsoft for instance. They made headlines by announcing Peter Jackson's involvement in penning game stories for them. Will they pander so much to Jackson's writing that our analog sticks get rusty from lack of movement? I wouldn't be surprised.
Still, there's a potential for this genre to hold the gaming world hostage, and I'm hopeful that it'll further our collective entertainment experience. Imagine with me for a second: Quentin Tarantino writes another Kill Bill script with a dozen different endings meant for an Xbox 360 release where we, the gamers, can carve our own plot twists with a katana and some furious button mashing. We can dream, right? It might not be as far off as you think, but it's going to take a careful balance by the major publishers and some patience on our parts for cinematic gaming to reach its potential.