Kathleen Kennedy highlights the importance of video games in Star Wars storytelling

If you’ve watched The Mandalorian, and recent episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi, you may have experienced moments where what you were viewing on your small screen felt a lot like watching someone play a video game. The episode’s characters are briefed on a particular mission. They encounter enemies at different points throughout, which sometimes seem progressively more difficult to defeat as the episode goes on. Sometimes the characters even get something at the end, like a krayt dragon egg or a sassy 10-year-old princess.

It turns out your feelings aren’t accidental; the creatives behind recent Star Wars stories are turning to video game narratives to learn more about what works best in telling a quick, compelling story set in a galaxy far, far away.

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor

Photo: Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order in-game screenshot.. Courtesy EA Press

Speaking with Empire, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy pointed to video games as essential models for current Star Wars storytelling.

“It’s funny, the more I’ve got to know how games are written, and that kind of persistent storytelling that goes on in a game environment where you’re just constantly building upon a single story, that’s much closer to what Star Wars is,” she said. “There’s intention around [bringing in elements from games], because there’s a huge investment by people in Star Wars along the way.” ”

It’s no coincidence that more Star Wars video games are on the horizon now than there have been in recent decades. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor was just announced for a 2023 release at Star Wars Celebration, and not long before that, Amy Hennig and Lucasfilm Games announced their plans to make a new game together. Games are different from movies, TV and books in that they’re tasked with building an immersive, attention-grabbing experience around a story. There are so many different elements that go into making a game that it takes years to develop just one. But without a compelling story, some Star Wars games just won’t stick their landing.

Star Wars TV through the Disney+ avenue is still a relatively new endeavor, and it’s impractical to expect Lucasfilm to get everything right even now. The company’s storytellers are learning as they go, and if their aim is to tell complex stories that feel like you’re right there with the characters — and stories that evolve into even more complicated narratives as they go — video games really are an excellent tool for learning how to do that.

But it’s about more than just the stories. Kennedy also told Empire video games have an influence on the characters referenced and brought into future media. Such as Cal Kestis, perhaps?

She continued: “We have fun identifying who carries forward, and what we reference, and the history. You always want to feel that there’s a history behind everything that’s happening in Star Wars. So there’s a lot of conversation that goes around that.”

All this doesn’t mean every Star Wars thing you watch moving forward will feel like a video game, or that a bunch of video game characters are heading to Disney+ shows. But there is a benefit to studying the stories that have come before in seeking structure and inspiration for what’s to come.

As time goes on, Star Wars stories will continue to evolve, and each one is going to look a little different than the last. That’s a good thing. Seeing the same things over and over again isn’t how a franchise or its fans grow. Kennedy and her team are certainly on the right track.

Follow Dork Side of the Force for all your Star Wars news, reviews, and more!