Anyone that knows me in real life knows that I love playing Tales games. (Tales of Symphonia and its sequel are two of my favorite games ever) I don’t shut up about the games in the series and every new title is a new adventure for me. I’ve also played several other JRPG games, although never the Final Fantasy series.
So what do those have to do with writing? A lot, actually. RPGs, in general, follow story lines. In some games, the story lines are rather vague. Most Japanese Role Playing Games (JRPGs) have something more. They focus on a story and even though you might have choices to make, there is an inevitable storyline that you are following. The exception to this rule are games that give you really late game choices, such as Tales of Xillia 2. And in those cases, I actually researched the endings to make sure that I was picking the one that I felt was a better fit for the way that I played the game.
And that right there is why JRPGs have actually helped me with my writing. I’ve been playing these games since I was a kid. There is a lot about them that I love. The worlds are rich and the characters interesting. Even after all these years, the characters are new and fun and different than the iterations before.
I can’t directly translate a game into a story, but there are certain things that help me understand how to make the story that I want. It’s all about the way that I handle the story and the way that I balance out the ton. As fun as Tales of Xilia 2 was, the darkness of the story constantly outweighed the jokes that the characters made. While the game itself was fun, the story felt hard to reach. On the other hand, Tales of Zestiria is an incredibly complex game to play. The items and battle system are so hard to navigate that I have to look up guides if I put down the game for too long. But the story is incredible. The story is compelling and detailed and intricate and dark, but the game balances it out with jokes and humor. The characters want to succeed and I believe it.
Some of these things are done by the voice acting and the art, but a lot of it is also the writing of the characters. The more stories I experience, the better I understand how to write stories of my own.
And if I get to have some fun while I’m researching, then that’s just a bonus.