To: Luke
From: Brian
Re: Games Have Endings Too, You Know

You're totally right, GTA IV's ending did sort of fizzle on some level, though I don't know if I'd agree that the last third was bad. I'd say more like the last hour was flat. Here's the problem as I see it. I think game designers and developers are following the tradition story-telling model set by books. There's a beginning, a middle and an end, or to be a little more specific an intro, rising climax, the climax, falling climax and then the denouement.

The problem is that while video game storytellers totally knock the first four out of the ball park, often delivering amazing hooks in their stories that get your wrapped up in the rising action and climax of the story, the stories fall apart after the climax. It's as if the idea of providing some sort of gradual step down from the over-the-top, thrilling story of a typical action game is wrong and the concept of wrapping things up in a neat little package of resolved issues is almost blasphemous.

I can see two reasons this happens. Among some developers I'm sure their is a desire to pad a story and make the game longer. This gives many games, like GTA IV, what I'm going to call a false climax. You have a point in the story where you feel like it should be over, but instead you're hit with more rising action and another, much less powerful climax and absolutely no resolution.

Other developers, I think want to leave the door open for a sequel and, like in Bioshock, feel like they need to walk readers down that path before the story ends, even though they've already accomplished everything they need to to deliver a powerful story. The end result, of course, just waters down the entire experience.

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My two cents at least.

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