This post is inspired by walkyourpath's blog http://www.destructoid.com/it-s-more-complicated-than-just-escapism-143461.phtml#ext
. If you haven't read it yet, it's thought-provoking and definitely worth the short time spent reading it.
Anyway, the idea that we play video games because we know what will happen if we perform a series of actions and that we enjoy the idea of set outcomes had me thinking--What if video games didn't always have a set outcome?
What if, when you were about to save the world, something awful happened to make the reverse true? That happens all the time in video games. Sometimes it's an example of the player accidentally triggering the "ancient evil's" ressurection, as in Kirby's Adventure, where it turns out the main enemy was actually trying to protect the world and by defeating him, you actually helped bring about the apocalypse. Sometimes it's just the antagonist deciding it's time to destroy everything and summoning the ancient evil. But whenever it happens and however it happens, it's scripted. The developers wanted that moment, where the player didn't expect that they were going to be trapped by their own actions. And it had to happen then, because the developers put that moment into the story and made sure that after you did a certain thing, this bit of story development would happen.
Sometimes, there's an illusion of choice and it's becoming a lot more prevelant in video games this generation. Would you help kill this character or would you save him? Would you talk your way out of being involved? There's still set outcomes. If I said I was going to kill a man on the street, he'll die because I took a certain path that the developers had lay out for me. If I decided to go neutral, I'm making a choice but I'm still following a fork in the road. And that road was built long before I decided which path to take. Sometimes there are even more choices, (lawful good, chaotic good) but there are always set paths that I will have to take if I said I'd loot the criminal's pockets and then turn him in to the police. The Witcher does a great job of portraying shades of gray. Early in the game, there is a band of elven bandits that are illegally buying goods from a villager. Geralt is given the option, when he discovers this, to defend the goods and have the bandits leave the site or to let them take what they want. Once that happens, the consequences don't become apparent until the next act of the game. I decided to let them take the goods and in the next act, I found that they had killed a character important to the plot with one of the arrows they had bought from the villager. Something that I had not expected at all had taken place in relation to my actions, but there were still set outcomes. If I had read a walkthrough, I would find out that something was going to happen and I would know the outcome of my actions way before I even performed them.
walkyourpath states that a huge reason for why we enjoy video games is because we enjoy having a desirable outcome to our actions within the game. It's a farcry from real-life, where a lot never goes according to plan. Well, my question is, what if there was a video game that mirrored real life in that lots of things never went according to plan because the developers never created a plan to follow? Do you think it would appeal to you in the same way as videogames that developers create actual legitimate outcomes for? Or would it not seem like much of an escapist route, as it held the possibility of being very depressing, to the point of mirroring real life's unexpected problems?
Thank you, and good night.