The Red Pill or the Red Pilll

Choice has always been an important mechanic in games within the past ten years or so. They make the player feel in control of the world surrounding them and make them feel like their input matters to the bigger picture. However choice often presents games with the problem of maintaining quality and can more often than not leave a more experience player analysing a situation purely so that they can obtain a certain ending as opposed to being involved within the moment.

Killing these small children will surely make myself feel better about being a spineless coward in real life!

Killing these small children will surely make myself feel better about being a spineless coward in real life!

However when a game tries to implement a large spectrum of narrative choice, this weakens the plot. No longer does the player try to find out what is wrong within the story or what happened to cause it in the first place, but rather seek our only to be a good or bad person depending on their preference. Furthermore these endings rarely consist more of either “Yay! You saved the day and everyone is happy!” or “Congratulations, you’re a dick!”. The strength of a narrative will be compromised with meaningful plot changing choices leaving the game to leave a much smaller effect on the player given that the end was exactly what that person was working towards the entire game and exactly what they wanted.

Saving these children will surely make myself feel better about being a spineless coward in real life!

Saving these small children will surely make myself feel better about being a spineless coward in real life!

Additionally, some choices within games also present you with specific rewards, some being one of a kind and exclusive to that quest. When you’re reading the games wiki page to find out what actions give you what rewards, choice does not really matter and you might as well have a more in-depth linear quest and being able to choose what rewards you want once the quest is completed as opposed to just doing what quest line presents you, in the player’s eyes, better rewards.

Killing these small children will surely make myself feel better about being a spineless coward in real life!

Actually wait, killing you gave me a way cooler gun. Sucks for you, kid.

However from game to game choices don’t often seem to branch off into interesting story lines, but rather just alter how everything changes in the very last second. You will still be going through the same quests, although with slightly different dialogue, and wind up in a very similar place. That being said, dealing with short term narratives differently can still present an interesting experience. While you know that ultimately you will wind up saving the land from the dragons because that what the game has locked you into doing, there is still lots of satisfaction to gain by being a hero to the small people or just shooting them in the gut without even making eye contact to them. While choice has difficulty presenting any significant and decent impact on a larger scale, it does let the player make their gaming experience their own, regardless of whether or not they just read the wiki to find out what the “best” option for them would be.

Awww yisss totally worth it.

Awww yisss. Totally worth it.

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