As, perhaps, the first obvious choice presented in The Stanley Parable, the choice to enter the left or right door presents an opportunity for the player to adhere to what has been dictated as the game’s story, or rebel against the narrator and assert their own volition. While this offers the opportunity for a player to feel as though they have taken control and denied the narrator their wishes by asserting their freedom (reinforced by his indignant responses), this raises a question we discussed in class. If all the decisions we make in-game are predetermined by the developers, are they real choices?
I would argue that they are ‘real choices,’ despite being accounted for, in the same way it is a real choice for us to pick one DVD over another before we watch a movie, or make a decision about which path to take in a choose-your-own-adventure novel. True, the outcome of each choice will be the same each time you make it, but deciding to go with one path over the other is an expression of the experience you want to go with at that point in time. Much like the choices one might make in The Last of Us, where you may decide whether to be stealthy or loud for certain sections, there will always be an endpoint that has been predetermined, but depending on your own disposition, you may prefer one strategy over another. Games will always have boundaries, limitations, and rules that dictate what you can and can’t do, but within those boundaries, the decisions you make are still your own, and can still offer a form of freedom that is satisfying nonetheless.