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#9: The Stanley Parable

The Stanley Parable is a short experience but a worthwhile one (and a must-play for those thinking about either a career in video game writing or video game design). At best it’s a metafictional quagmire, at worst it’s an absurdist mind-fuck en par with Beckett’s Waiting for Godot or Albert Camus’ The Stranger. Created by Davey Wreden, known on forums as “Cakebread”, The Stanley Parable is a mod that utilizes Half-Life 2′s Source Engine and is free to download off Steam provided the player has a Valve title already on their account.

You start the game as employee 427, a belabored office worker, who one day finds everyone in his building has suddenly disappeared, and it’s up to you to uncover the mystery behind their disappearance. This is a game where simple decisions (Like do you take the door on your right or the door on your left?) ultimately determines your fate. There are no tutorials, no instructions beforehand, only the brilliant voice-over narration of British actor Kevan Brighting. Like Garry’s Mod released in 2005, The Stanley Parable is a slap in the face to linear storytelling.

“The whole point of the game is that there is no answer…The entirety of the game is realizing what the question is in the first place,” stated Wreden in an interview with Wired Magazine. What’s even more astounding is that 22-year-old Wreden had never designed a video game previously. The game constantly breaks the fourth wall and there’s no shortage of self-referential jokes to be had either, as the narrator constantly takes delight in reminding the player you’re very much playing a video game. Real gluttons for punishment will try to achieve all six alternate endings but in the end, the game raises more questions than it answers, which is entirely intentional, and depending on your level of open-mindedness you’ll either love or hate this game.

Like any good indie title, The Stanley Parable spread entirely through word-of-mouth and quickly made the rounds across most popular gaming publications and blogs. Two weeks after its release the game was downloaded on Steam more than 90,000 times much as a result of fans and critics. In the months to come, Wreden was contacted by many developers, all of whom were interested in working with him on future projects. There’s even talks of a complete remake in the works. While not a full game in itself, The Stanley Parable more than qualifies to be on this list.

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Jon Bloodspray   1



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About 1001VideoGamesone of us since 12:38 PM on 04.22.2012

Dear Viewer,

Hello and welcome to my channel “1001 Video Games You Must Play”, also known as 1001 Video Games. In 2010, Universe Publishing released “1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die”. The book was edited by Tony Moss and stands as a primer for the best video games released over the past 35 years. Each entry presents a game and a descriptive paragraph explaining the social context in which the game was made and the lasting impact it had on players as a whole.

Now originally, this website was created as a chronicle in my epic quest to finish all 1001 video games. I realize now that this is too great a task for just one person. But after a long time I realized that I could just as easily start my own personal journey with my great love for video games.

So instead of playing all 1001 video games in Mott’s book, I’ve decided to take it upon myself to chronicle the next 1001 video games in the hope that the next 35 years will be just as memorable for this medium. I’m not going to lie to you. I’m an extremely casual gamer, so the entries for this list will come slowly but surely over the coming months/years, beginning with games created in the early-2010s onward.

What’s great about video games today is that they aren’t simply relegated to consoles and the PC. Games made specifically for smartphones (e.g. Android, iOS, Blackberry, etc.) are really starting to come into their own. Similarly, independent developers are making great strides with games released on the Playstation Network, Xbox Live Arcade, and Steam. I realize this sounds like a lot but I believe if I take this one day at a time it won’t be long before I reach one thousand and one entries.

This website will also host my Youtube channel so check out my channel as well. Also feel free to email me with games and suggestions for future entries.

All the best!

David Halpert
The Millennium Gamer