A lookback at the origin of the oft-used and oft-rejected term of ‘story games’.
Earlier this year, the website of a mainstream British newspaper cited ‘the emergence of the “story-game” movement’.
Many, including those outside and inside the ‘movement’, intensely dislike the term, finding it unnecessary and divisive. However, despite this and a bevy of alternative suggestions over the years, it’s clear that the term has stuck.
As such, it seems as good a time as any to have a look back at where the term was born.
We can see that Clinton was brainstorming different combinations and most likely offered ‘story game’ as a shortened version of ‘Story Now game’, however there was an earlier mention of ‘story game’ in a review in 2002 of the very game that Andy – ten years later – wrote wasn’t a game in which you played a role.
So, that’s a little of where the term ‘story game’ came to become associated with tabletop rpgs.
It’s worth mentioning that – just as roleplaying means different things in the fields of tabletop, computers, theatre, corporate training and sex – the term has ‘story game’ been used in other fields as well:
If you came here looking for a definition, then sorry to disappoint. There is no generally agreed-upon prescriptive definition and it can be be variously considered as a synonym for tabletop rpgs, a website, a subset of tabletop rpgs, a separate category of games with some or no overlap, or a playstyle.
At its best, I consider it communicating a focus or priority of a game or a gaming session. The phrase as a whole may have no fixed or useful meaning, but the words themselves have power to evoke and inspire.