Back in the day the extent of storytelling in games was usually encompassed in one sentence, take space invaders, the name itself is the extent of its story =P. As time moved on games received more developed stories based on movies and comics eventually games would have an epic story so moving it made gamers cry ( I’m looking at you FF7 fans, I KNOW YOU SHED A TEAR WHEN AERIES DIED). Anyway stories in game have become commonplace and are, in the case of RPGS can be a large selling point of a game. For example games like Final fantasy 7, while it has stable game play, it would have been bland and boring to play if it had a poor story and none of the whole shebang epic storyline of a man and his overly sized sword which people always seem to go on about. So in most cases a story is a big selling point mainly because it gives the players a world to escape to, just like with books and films.
This however isn’t always the case, because out there as many of us know are games which have no story at all, I look at games on the Wii (well a majority of them) and games like rock band or tetris. These have no stories and frankly don’t need them as the novelty is in the game play or other factors such as music.
And then we have games like second life, games where a story is made by the gamers, in second life, people are given a clean slate from the get go and how their stories and adventures go is entirely up to them. It’s a game based on the player’s imagination, their ability to create a story. This could suggest that a story isn’t very important in games if the player just makes it up, but I believe in the opposite, many games out there have benefited by adding in epic storylines, heck recently I bought Dynasty Warriors 5 empires not for the game play, mostly for the chance to learn more about the whole romance of the three kingdoms malarkey. Stories are always like looking through a window, especially in books and films, in games it’s more of a possession and seeing a storyline unfold due to your actions as you play is always an amazing feeling, for example in splinter cell I had the choice to shoot someone, I chose to shoot him (yeah I’m evil) and I felt the repercussions as in doing so I lost the trust of the NSA but I got deeper into the terrorist plot!