Much of the discourse from proponents of the “video games are art” position is centered on the medium’s interactivity as its distinguishing advantage. Audience participation, as it were, is the reason why games exist. No other mode of storytelling so often depends on the actions, reactions, and experiences of its audience as the work is engaged with. Even the most linear or simplistic game is communicated through the player’s progress in the world, not through passive consumption. But fixating on how the player experiences a work means that the player’s continued entertainment is necessary for the story to progress. In other words, there must always be something for the player to keep doing, leaving only the briefest moments to reflect.
Any form of language requires that a thing is “doing something” in a sentence and any story must communicate in some form of language. Therefore, any story must be about a thing doing stuff. But the way that an introspective paragraph, a lingering shot on a scene, the expression on an actor’s face, or the illustration in a panel in a comic tells a story is a way that often seems too slow for games. Specifically, games seem like they must be fast paced and straightforward. There are plenty of logical plots, interesting settings, strong characters, and poignant themes in games, but they must all be rushed through to serve gameplay [Unless you are Hideo Kojima—ed.]. The assumption seems to be that the player must always have a carrot dangling in front of them at all times.