Humanity has always needed stories. When language first evolved, after humans figured out how to articulate what they wanted for dinner, telling stories came next. More or less. With their universal themes of human struggles, compelling stories woven into games can transcend borders and connect players from diverse backgrounds. In Ancient Greece, what Aristotle stated about how and why stories are important is just as relevant to storytelling in games today, as it is for any other media.

Love makes the world of the game go round

Let’s look at some universal themes. These are the beating heart of any story, and truly connect players to your game. Themes can include love, friendship, heroism, and the struggle between good and evil – in short, the aspects of life that we can all relate to.

For example, the themes of love and friendship can profoundly enhance a game’s story by adding emotional depth and relatability. This in turn makes the narrative more engaging and impactful for players. Love, whether romantic or familial, introduces stakes that resonate on a personal level, driving characters to act with passion and determination. Friendship, on the other hand, fosters camaraderie and loyalty, creating bonds that players can invest in and root for.

These themes can lead to compelling character development and memorable interactions, as players witness the growth and sacrifices made in the name of these powerful connections. By weaving love and friendship into the fabric of the story, a game can transcend mere entertainment, offering a rich, immersive experience that lingers in the hearts and minds of players long after the final scene.


Character studies

You can’t have a story without characters. That’s what Aristotle would tell you – and he’d be right. Even if your story doesn’t have recognizable characters, for example, the focus of the game is a piece of furniture or an inanimate object, that element will have a character, and some relatable personality traits that the player can get on board with. The best characters are those with depth, relatability, and authenticity; they have well-rounded personalities that resonate across cultures.

Beyond characters, in story-speak, you need to think about who your protagonist is. Maybe you have several of them if your game has an epic scale and is multi-layered. Ideally, a strong protagonist will have realistic motivations, flaws and growth arcs. A well-rounded protagonist allows players to see a part of themselves in the character, fostering a deeper connection to the story.

But that’s not all. You need an antagonist, again more if needed, but one (or a ‘collective one’) is generally stronger and focuses the player’s attention on what they’re fighting against. Classically, the antagonist is the villain, though with clever writing, it’s sometimes not easy to tell – and that can make your story, and your game, a whole lot more intriguing for the player.


Because we’re all human, right?

Yes we are. In the olden days, all human beings used to be the same (except they weren’t). It was a case of ‘normal’ and then everyone else that didn’t fit that label was swept under the carpet. But we’re smarter now, and realize that human beings are different, and difference needs to be celebrated. It’s important to avoid stereotypes, be mindful of cultural taboos and ensure that your narrative is inclusive and respectful. Because Vive la diffèrence is the gaming industry’s motto these days (in every language, of course).

Diversity in character representation means every diversity: cultural diversity, gender diversity, and diversity in age and abilities. Etc. By representing a wide range of experiences and backgrounds, writers can ensure players from different cultures, players with different life experiences, and players with different value systems can feel seen and valued.

At the get-go, there’s a few key questions you need to ask. Let’s skip past the obvious ones (What kind of game is it? etc) to this one: Who is the audience? And, crucially, who is in that audience? You shouldn’t only be looking at broad demographics but, to hit a high score on the divers-o-meter, you need to think about the many different individuals that may make up that audience.

Take time to do some research. Look at your competitor titles, as well as the titles that you love and want to emulate – who is playing those games, and what has their feedback been? This is your chance to learn from other peoples’ mistakes.


Invite the world to your world

Beyond your primary market and considerations for diversity, there’s everyone else. Everyone else in the whole world or, at least, the foreign markets where you subsequently choose to launch your game.

You can’t just translate your game.
This is where localization comes in. Localization is critical for how your game fares in foreign markets. It involves adapting the game’s content to suit the linguistic and cultural preferences of different regions, and should not feel like the icing on the top of the cake.

Effective and seamless localization goes beyond translation to delve into cultural nuances, local traditions, and societal norms; it has to feel as if it’s interwoven into the texture of a game’s narrative and dialogue. Talented writers native to your target markets are the gateway to making your game a success in those markets. Especially where dialogue is concerned.

Dialogue is a major storytelling component in games. Ideally you want a professional script writer to do this. And when localizing, you should have the same sort of talent recreating the dialogue for the target markets, so that any cultural references, idiomatic expressions, and, most importantly, humour is properly, and creatively, handled.

Jokes are notoriously difficult to translate, so don’t take chances. Yes, you want to keep the narrative direction of the ‘scenes’ in the game, but some of the dialogue may have to be completely rewritten for the target audience. A word to the wise, let the native-tongue writer do their job – though it may feel like they’re changing too much initially, you’ll thank them in the end.

Take a look at Alpha Games’ copywriting services.


Let the players write the story

There’s been a growing trend of interactive storytelling across the gaming industry over the last decade or so. Interactive storytelling allows players to actively participate in the narrative, making choices that influence the outcome of the story. Done successfully, this can take player immersion to a whole new level.

The game genres suited to this kind of creative construction can be surprisingly varied – horror set in the nineteenth century, romance set in space, thriller set in the future, medieval jousting challenges set wherever and whenever – the genre and setting can be pretty much anything.
Interactive storytelling is all about weaving choices into your narrative. Again, the nature of these choices can vary massively:

  • Should the character wear a blue dress or red dress?
  • Should the character follow orders to kill the prisoner or not?


The player can take an active part in designing the narrative of the game by how they choose as they navigate branching storylines, multiple endings and moral dilemmas. Through this player agency, each choice they make can affect the subsequent choices they are presented with; thus, different players can achieve a very different story experience of the same game.

Games with this kind of construction can lead to a more rewarding sense of achievement on completing the game, as the player has been encouraged to think critically about their decisions and how the outcomes will affect both the characters and the narrative, creating a deeper sense of ownership and emotional investment in the game.

As the gaming industry continues to grow and evolve, the power of storytelling will remain a vital tool in connecting players across cultures and creating unforgettable gaming experiences. So your writers had better be up to the job.