Considering the endings of Queers In Love At The End of The World and The Stanley Parable in conversation with each other reveals different ways of determining what to value in games. There are multiple endings in the Stanley Parable, and the end that Stanley meets is determined by player choices. Once an ending it reached, player choices retroactively fit together into a semi-logical chain of cause and effect. With multiple playthroughs, the player can learn that their actions have consequences and they have a role in selecting their fate. In class this week, it was mentioned that in the Stanley Parable, the “best” ending is not necessarily one where Stanley wins, but might be one that makes the gameplay more narratively interesting. This gives the specific ending the player reaches, and in turn the choices made to earn that end, a lot of weight in shaping the game. The player learns that their choices, in action or inaction, fuel the game.
In contrast, Queers In Love At The End of The World has a singular ending, where text comes on screen saying “Everything is wiped away” and leaving the player with no way to continue. This ending is always the same, despite the choices the player makes throughout the short narrative. Sometimes there are no choices to make at all and the player is resigned to wait for time to expire and for the ending message to appear. After multiple playthroughs, this inevitability makes the player’s actions feel futile, and makes them question why they are even making choice, if they are going to meet the same end regardless of their activity or inactivity. This ending teaches the player of in Queers In Love At The End of The World that what matters is not what they do or the choices they make within the game, but their presence. This is further supported by the afterword, “When we have each other we have everything,” which simply asks its parties to exist in the same space. When the game ends, the player, along with everything else, is gone. The player’s existence is tied to the game’s continuation. Their choices make no difference to their own survival or the game’s length.
Through the difference between the effect of choices, you can see how the endings of a game can change the player’s perspective on their role and what is valued in the game.