Fairy Tales & Parlor Tricks: The Past, Present, and Future of Video Games

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“Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey.”

-G.K. Chesterton

If you were to play your ocarina and warp back to 1889, you might be surprised to find Nintendo getting its start as a playing card company. Everyone knows the video game giant now lives in the clouds at the top of an enormous beanstalk-esque vine. Nintendo continues performing parlor tricks, keeping storytelling alive on the Wii U with Mario in Super Smash Bros., Zelda in Hyrule Warriors, and the whole gang in Mario Kart 8. So, what’s Nintendo’s big secret?

The Legend of Zelda series is but one of many examples offering a piece of the mystery used by Nintendo game designers. Games like Zelda take age-old, classical storytelling, found in fairy tales, to market, what G.K. Chesterton might consider in his essay “The Red Angel,” a “clear idea of the possible defeat.” Whether the bogey is Bowser, Ganon, or Dr. Wily, the key to an epic video game is a timeless story coupled with just the right amount of challenge to keep the player engaged in defeating a main boss.

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Game designers must consider, and reconsider, the action of a fairy tale or high stakes card game: A hero or champion faced with impossible odds (but not so impossible they want to quit). Picture a little wart of a boy becoming a great warrior and king, an underdog flipping over an ace and queen to win the jackpot in a game of blackjack, or Link collecting enough pieces of The Triforce to overpower Ganon. Whatever the narrative, the timeless secret to a successful game is alluding to stories embedded in a culture’s DNA and keeping a carrot just far enough out in front of a generation’s nose for them to keep playing. Nintendo effectively continues to tell tales that captivate both Japanese and western audiences, and demonstrate ongoing mastery of game play and challenge.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was originally titled The Triforce of the Gods in Japan, and offers an otherworldly illustration of how a game, steeped in fairy tale lore, gives games the Pegasus ride of a lifetime. Here is a game nearly a quarter of a century old that keeps players captivated to defeat the evil bogeyman, Ganon, time and time again. Pushing in a SNES cartridge, or downloading A Link to the Past on a Wii virtual console, sends a 2015 gamer back in time to experience a near perfect balance of storytelling and game play that’s just as enjoyable now as it was then. These are the games game designers are charged to continue making as we move forward in 21st-century game development.

As gamer designers, Gigaloth aims to strike this balance of storytelling and engaging game play in games such as Produce Wars. Gigaloth continues to carry a torch of eternalized storytelling, and presenting just the right amount of ardor in each and every game. Other Gigaloth titles to watch out for include Empyrium Tactics, a role-playing game with real time strategy, and Kingdom Blitz, a multi-player online battle arena tabletop, card game.

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