It doesn’t matter wether it’s an alien invasion, a world war, a gateway to hell, or a zombie plague, in video games, the fate of the world and all of its inhabitants always seems to be in your hands. Why do games assume we want that kind of responsibility all the time? I have enough responsibilities to worry about in real life, why would I want to take on even bigger ones? Maybe in Call of Duty 2 I decide I don’t like the world as it is and side with the Nazis. Perhaps the Master Chief is just sick and tired of fighting the same fight against the Covenant over and over again, and just wants to retire to a peaceful beach villa in the south of France, drinking fine Merlot and eating fresh baguette. That’s why we should have more choice in games, but not the kind of pretentious choices that affect that pathetic Naughty or Nice meter found in increasingly more games these days, but choices that affect more then just wether the games’ towns people are scared of me or not.
In a racing game I can either go left or maybe right, but I can’t just crash into a wall, killing several spectators and crushing my pelvis and 4 ribs, while rendering me infertile, resulting in my resignation from racing, my wife divorcing me, and me spending the rest of my life flipping burgers in McDonalds after having been sued by my victims families. That wouldn’t work in a game, say the developers, because according to consumer analysis, it just isn’t fun to lose. But I want to be able to lose, I want to actually care about dying, not because it’s an inconvenience to sit through a death screen, but because something meaningful will actually happen if I do. So until Fable 3 gives me the ability to develop a drinking problem, attend rehab, get a divorce, only see the kids on weekends, get married not by dancing and farting, but my talking, and makes me actually fear death, Peter Molyneux can shut is big tea drinking british mouth.
We’ve gotten to the point in movies where when someone dies, if it’s done right, we actually cry. They don’t respawn a few seconds later, they don’t start back at the nearest check point, they’re dead. But when you try to translate the emotion from a 2 hour movie into a 20 + hour game, it just doesn’t work out. So when will buy a really short game where if I die, it’s over, that’s just how the game ends. I can replay it, but I’ll play as a different character, one that I met in my first play through of the game. At the point where I died in the first play through, I’ll see the death through my new characters eyes, and how it affected the characters around him. Just a bit of food for thought.
Choices in games need to stop being good or evil, they need to start having game affecting consequences, and not just wimping out with you growing evil horns if you kill your neighbor, but legitimate consequences, like death. Unless it’s an RPG, most games these days give us responsibility over the world and assume we agree with them and will make the right choices in the rare situations where we have to. But game developers need to cock up and allow us as players to make, dare I say it, the wrong choice. We need to screw up, and it’s up to you.