Game Dev Story

Almost every serious gamer I know has at one point flirted with the idea of working for a game development company. Game Dev Story capitalizes on this desire with a loose story about starting a small company and making it larger. The player controls all aspects of game production from concept through production and sales and marketing.

Tom Armitage explains that the game "boiled down, is nothing more than a tarted-up spreadsheet," but that it suggests an interesting case of player-generated story. Though there is little direct narrative, there is (necessarily) an underlying narrative framework without which the real narrative would not be possible. The game offers suggestive bits that imply a greater story world beyond that with which the player directly interacts.

Players do create narrative through the small amounts of input:

In that little flight of creativity, the game opens up: the player starts writing their own story. The player isn't just typing names into boxes. They're saying the words aloud in your head - and that conjures images of box-art, screengrabs, scathing magazine reviews; cardboard standees packed full of buggy, terrible, detective puzzle games, waiting to be flogged.
Game Dev Story exemplifies a kind of mechanical storytelling: stories told not through text or voice-acting, but through coherent systems that cannot help but generate stories. I'm not waving my hands in my air here and making an excuse - "Oh, it has emergent narrative"; my point is that, in good mechanical storytelling, narrative cannot help but emerge. It's designed into the system.