Player Choice and Accountability

Do game developers seek to shame certain player choices? Are they teaching players about the importance of making the “right” choice? These are some of the questions I had after our last class. I thought about my experience playing both The Last Of Us and Undertale in comparison to others in class. Some people in class brought up that game developers do shame certain player choices. However, after playing both games I think it’s worth considering that they do not. In my experience, games simply prompt consequences of certain actions in the game. 

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Figure 1: The player has the choice to evade enemies rather than killing them

For instance, in Last Of Us I was always informed that I can take my enemies down quietly. After a series of choices not killing my enemies quietly my character was frequently told he was reckless (Figure 2). Considering that I chose to put myself and others at risk rather than keeping them hidden (Figure 1) does make my character seem reckless. The game developer does not want to “shame” me (the player) but defines the actions I take in the game. Moreover, the developer provides dialogue about how those actions are affecting other game characters. Thus, game developers inform the player and essentially teaches the player about accountability. Each choice can profoundly impact how the rest of the game is played.

Figure 2: When the player decides to be more militant other characters in the game tell them.

 

I found this to be the case in a game like Undertale as well. In Undertale a player’s choices gives a player special or different ending. If he/she/they decides to kill bosses even when given the choice not to kill it informs characters in the game about the player. Thus, it should not come as a surprise if one gets the genocide ending (Figure 4)  rather than a pacifist ending (Figure 3). If one killed up until the very end of the game the developers are not shaming but,  judging the player based on actions. The player should take responsibility and walk the path they have created for themselves. In doing so, the player understands they are responsible for the path they have chosen. What is often mistaken for an attack on a player’s morals is actually an evaluation of the actions taken place during game.

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Figure 3: This is the Pacifist Ending in Undertale which occurs if the player spares all other character’s lives.

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Figure 4: This is the genocide ending which occurs if the player kills all other character’s in the game.

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