Games, Storytelling

The Story Within Clash of Clans

Clash of Clans is a game played worldwide in massive numbers. Why do people play this game with so much enthusiasm? My answer is narrative, which is kind of interesting, as the game doesn’t really have a built-in story in it. I will open up my idea in this blog post.

The community around Clash of Clans is great.

What builds community? It is narrative. The narrative potential of Clash of Clans is huge and it has been growing and developing ever since the launch of the game in 2012.

The most recent example is Clash-a-Rama.

University of Goblin is my favorite episode so far with typical Simpsons-style storytelling: multiple plot lines and ridiculously funny characters.

As Verge writes in their article on Clash-a-Rama: “While its characters are fairly well-known, thanks to the game’s massive popularity (Supercell’s lineup of games are played by an estimated 100 million people each day) and plentiful TV commercials that air during high profile sports events, Clash of Clans doesn’t actually have much of a story.” That is true: Clash of Clans doesn’t have any story.

Or does it?

I think many Clashers would disagree with that. Not all stories are immediately visible. I am sure almost all Clash of Clans players have visualized some kind of story. This happens to us automatically. “The human mind is a story processor, not a logic processor,” says Jonathan Haidt in his book The Righteous Mind. This is why we love the innate story of Clash of Clans and not the brilliant code, which constitutes it.

I was even creating my own Clash of Clans narrative while attending a gig.

So where does the story come from? Clash of Clans has created a universe of its own. This means that it is a platform for a plethora of possible narratives. As LaZebnik, one of the Simpsons writers who has created Clash-a-Rama, put it: There’s not a ton of backstory to the game and characters, so it was great for us to say ‘This is our take on their universe,’ and be able to define who some of these characters are.”

The characters were already there. The setting was already there. And most of all, the people – us Clashers – were already there. Tens of millions of minds had already rigorously been working on the story behind Clash of Clans and its characters. One could say, that the Simpsons writers only put it out there what we already knew: there is a story behind Clash of Clans.

Richard Dawkins, the author of The Selfish Gene, famously said we are “survival machines” for our genes.

I say, we are narrative generating machines. This is part of our genetic makeup.

I just defended against a massive balloon attack and won. The storyline was immediately clear to me: my brave villagers had defended their homes and they had survived.

Jag Bhalla wrote in his interesting blog post to Scientific American on stories and how they are part of our nature: “Nature shaped us to be ultra-social, and hence to be sharply attentive to character and plot. We are adapted to physiologically interact with stories.”

That’s what we do every time we play Clash of Clans. We physiologically interact with the innate story of the game. And we are loving it.

Keep on Clashing!