Before the beginning of the semester, playing a game to me was inserting yourself into the shoes of the protagonist and making sure they (they also being you) reached their goal. Though I understood that some people played for fun, I thought the purpose of play in relation to games was always to put yourself into another persons shoes, so that you may escape your problems and take on theirs. I tend to only play games with a narrative, but I felt that the same rule applied to games without much of a narrative. For example, when thinking about “play” while playing Pac-Man, I thought about helping Pac-Man and myself reach our end goal: gain as many points as possible and avoid the murderous ghosts. Even if it is not necessarily true, I always view games as having an end- a point where there is nothing else to do. If not, there would be no reason to play. Why play a game if there is no end or goal to accomplish? To me, it erased the purpose of playing in the first place because I would be taking on more problems besides my own with no way to solve them.
The game I have chosen to talk about is Undertale, one of my all time favorite games. Undertale takes place in a world where humans have banished monsters to an underground, with a shield of some kind preventing them from leaving. You as the character play a young child who accidentally falls into the underground and is trying to find a way out and back to their home. The games appearance is that of a black and white 8-bit game. The game is an RPG, but you as the player are given the choice of sparing everyone you come into contact, which does not allow you to level up. You play the game by traversing through the underground and going through various interactions in order to find a way home. Because you are given the choice to either kill or spare the enemies you come into contact with, the game has multiple endings, but only one “true” ending, which is the one that allows you to go through the full credits.
One moment in the game that broadened my sense of “play” is the monologue at the beginning of the game after you finish the Pacifist Route. After beating the game, if you reenter the app, one of the characters reveal to you that you may replay the game, but by doing so you will be taking away all of your friends’ happiness and memories. This broadened my sense of play because I never considered how important this power is when playing a game. Considering this, I must edit my definition of play. When playing a game, you are not just entering yourself into the protagonist’s shoes, you are becoming something of a god in relation to the game. Everyone’s well-beings are in your hands, and if you want, you can restart the game and take away all of their accomplishments, putting them in an eternal loop that only you remember. After this game, while playing other games I will always have a sense of responsibility towards the NPC characters that I did not have before.