In the indie game Execution
, which you should definitely play TWICE before you continue reading this
, the player is presented with a faceless figure bound to a post. This is seen through the scope of a gun and a flashlight, presumably affixed to the barrel. The playerís first inclination is to execute (as the title suggests) the figure presented before you. Aside from the titleís implications, you are never formally instructed to do this, nor are you are required to do this in order to progress or complete the game. However, none of that stops of from you from lining up your sights to execute the perfect headshot Ė after all, thatís what games have trained us to do. Upon shooting the defenseless figure, you receive a message informing you that you have lost. My first response was, ďScrew that, Iíll just try again and see if thereís something else to do.Ē There wasnít. I opened the game back up only to see a message informing me that ďitís too late.Ē There the man was, still tied to the post, still dead. The permanence actually shook me a bit, causing me to feel just slightly dirty. The impact, however miniscule, was more indelible than what I had experienced with Passage or any other arthouse game Iíve tried. Itís not that the person died, necessarily, but that I didnít know whether or not my actions were evil. I believed that what I was doing was the right thing to do. Iíve been playing games for nearly 20 years, and just about every single game Iíve played has taught me to shoot first and ask questions later. I still don't know whether or not my actions were evil, but I know that it seemed like the right thing to do at the time. Execution gave me more consequence for potentially evil actions than either Bioshock or Oblivion - or any of the other games that claim to allow the player to experience an "evil" playthrough.
It was my beliefs, predicated on years of gaming experience, which caused me to shoot that figure. It was Andrew Ryanís beliefs and Mankar Camoranís beliefs that resulted in the presentation of two interesting characters whose paths towards evil are unexplored by the player due to the limitations of the game. In order for us to truly experience evil from a player-character standpoint, the developer must first make us believe that our in-game actions are proper or justifiable. I donít have to feel the same level of permanency that I felt with Execution, only that I need to feel like Iím doing is what I should be doing or at least more relative to what I might do in real life. Until a developer can make "evil" choices a matter of perspective, I will continue to play the "good" storyline.
LOOK WHO CAME: