More Reviews
REVIEWS Stretchmo Review
Pushmo, Crashmo, Stretchmo... what's next, Twistmo? Vanilla Swirlmo? And why am I already excited for it?

Destiny: House of Wolves Review
The latest Destiny expansion makes some important changes, but are they enough to bring back former players?
More Previews
PREVIEWS Rodea The Sky Soldier Preview
Yuji Naka's independent game for Wii U and 3DS is like a cross between Sonic and Nights Into Dreams, in the best way possible.
Release Dates
NEW RELEASES LEGO Jurassic World
Release date: 06/12/15

Deception IV: The Nightmare Princess
Release date: 06/14/15

RIDE
Release date: 06/23/15


LATEST FEATURES I Am a Whore
And 3DS games are pretty good.

Yakuza 0 Is the Best Yakuza Game Ever (Yakuza Podcast 2 of 2)
If you don't mind some story spoilers, this is a great podcast. I don't just say that because I'm in it. Well I mean, that's a huge part of it, but not all of it.

LEADERBOARD
Read More Member Blogs
FEATURED VOXPOP oblivion437     In all the talk of graphical downgrades no one seems much preoccupied with 'why?'.  Why build something and then proceed to tear it down, piece by piece, in the hope that ever more diminished expectations about the final product won't be severe enough to...

We Are Stanley: An Analysis Of The Stanley Parable

Posted on Monday, October 21 @ 09:30:00 Eastern by


***Spoiler Alert*** (Well, duh... though I'll try to keep things as vague as possible.)

The Stanley Parable, at its core, is an examination of the illusion of choice—and by extension, the illusion of freedom—in game design. Any course about narrative and storytelling in games will have at least one mention of the concept that putting in any story in a game, regardless of how many choices a designer gives the player, is ultimately limited.

The Stanley Parable itself has multiple endings, about ten or so, and the player has to perform very specific actions, going through very specific doors, to reach each one. It's not so much that the player has the ability to choose freely from a bevy of options as the player needs to pick one of ten linear paths, and a game is only as good as its ability to obscure this fact.

That's why there are so many critically acclaimed games with open worlds and environments. Players can do a whole host of activities in any order they want, but ultimately they usually need to perform a series of specific story missions to "beat the game." Promising free will in a game, a common marketing bullet point, with deterministic endpoints is disingenuous. The only point of difference is Minecraft, which is a set of Legos really, where players have to construct the story himself or herself.



The most ironic ending in The Stanley Parable is the most straightforward one: By following the orders of the Narrator and performing all of the tasks that he orders the player to do like a good soldier, the player will gain freedom! Yay! Sunshine and rainbows! But of course by shutting down the Mind Control Facility, the player opts to be controlled by the godlike voice anyway. The player ends up doing everything that Stanley does at the start, pressing a bunch of buttons that the player is ordered to press.

Any deviance from the main path, and the Narrator, who is really in effect the game designer, either gets testy and puts the player in his place or asks the player about how to make his game better. None of this matters, though. No matter which ending the player chooses, the game just loops on itself and the player is left at the start of the game again. There is no escape from the cycle, no real freedom, no real way to reach the bright, colorful environments hung as pictures on the walls of the office. This emphasizes the game's sense of nihilism, in which all endings are devoid of meaning, though the humor will still likely make the player's experience that much more tolerable... until the player has exhausted all the possibilities. The cycle may be joyless, but the journey doesn't have to be.

At the same time, the Narrator ultimately needs the player, as much as a god needs a follower. In one particular ending, the Narrator struggles to come to terms with an inactive player character who just stands there. There is a dependency between the player and game designer, a symbiotic relationship where player fulfills the raison d'être, the reason for existence, for the game designer... and the other way around. If we're heading into a meaningless cloud of nothingness, we might as well do it while laughing.

Ha ha ha. Ha ha. Ha. ha......
Related Games:   The Stanley Parable
FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER. YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO.

comments powered by Disqus




More On GameRevolution