I recently finished Detroit: Become Human, a game that not only challenges my knuckle-draggingly slow death-by-procrastination choice process, but also raised some rather disturbing revelations as to how potentially sociopathic I might just be. I mean I felt good (sort of) about my decisions. I wanted the best possible result out of the game – you know, the least amount of people killed and a lovely swoopy end cut-scene that I can feel smug over whilst eating the last of the biscuits.
Just to clarify, if you haven’t played the game: at the end of each chapter it provides you with a rather fun infographic on which you can survey all of your in-game choices. It’s pretty cool, showing you where the path splits and potential outcomes were missed.
What was slightly worrying was the other player stats. Whilst I clearly thought that *insert a spoilery decision* would help my progression, I realised that only one per cent of other people playing the game had made that choice.
One per cent.
I was a bit taken aback by this. I mean – was I always like this? Have I become like this recently? Have I read way too much into this? How exactly does one dress for being the kind of person who makes the one-per-center decisions?
So aside from the game questioning my entire being, I did have a lovely if stressful time playing it. The info-chart was so fascinating to pour through, and a great idea to encourage a replay. Except that I will never do it. Ever. Because, even if it’s the greatest game ever, I never do go back for seconds. Aside from one time my Fable 2 game glitched and I got stuck right near the end and replayed EXACTLY the same game again, so I could finish it. But I don’t think that counts.
Whilst I understand why some people replay a different character or for a different perspective or for another ending or goddammit you’re just not ready to leave the cool world you’ve been submerged in for so long.
I get it. I do. I am just never ever going to do it.
And it’s not about time. Decisions only mean something if there is jeopardy – if those decisions have an ultimate consequence. That’s why life is simultaneously the best/worst thing depending on the day. Every decision you make affects the outcome or potentially your future. Everything has an effect. (This kind of grandiose life-grandstanding is why I’m never allowed to pick takeaways.)
I finished Detroit in pretty bad shape. The end sequence was like a swooping crane shot over a WW2 battlefield. I KILLED A LOT OF PEOPLE. Not on purpose! I don’t like people to die in games. But I screwed up super badly here. Apparently my path isn’t the path they want you to follow in game. WHO KNEW?! If I could magic them alive I would, I wanted them to survive, I loved these characters. And yet, they remain dead. And will. Forever.
Why don’t I go back and have a do-over if I care so much? Well, here’s the thing. Life, much like video games, only has meaning if the choices you make leave you with potentially annoying and upsetting consequences. It’s what puts the ‘o’ in jeopardy. Or the ‘pardy’ in jeopardy or even the ‘jeop’. I mean part of my YOLOing has now been applied to this sentence so I’m leaving it here as a reminder that not all the things you write are gold. In fact, actually it’s about 0.001%, and even then that’s debatable.
I chew fingernails over my choices. I make strategic cups of tea to stare out of the window pondering the metaphorical existence I’m screwing up. And only rarely (very rarely now) do I look things up online. Yes, this strategy leaves me with remorse, questioning my own decisions and thinking about how to do them better. But, the fact that I keep chewing these thoughts over, I think, is what makes my gameplay special. It’s special as there’s only one, there is consequence, tragedy, stupid, stupid panicked decisions, shouting at televisions in the middle of the night, then arguing with neighbours because of arguing with televisions, having important mail put in a bin, arguing with neighbours again etc. But these all make great stories. They all make memorable playthroughs of games and of life.
And yes, whilst games are designed to try to tease you to play again with delectable cheevos and pointless points dangled over you like a Swarovski crystal carrot twinkling in the sunshine, don’t be fooled. The sparkly carrot is a lie. It takes away the deep connection you have with that character and with that story.
Live your lives, make bad choices, live with the consequences.
Remember YOLO without living once is YOL or YOLT if you live twice. And that doesn’t sound cool, it sounds like a yoghurt drink that helps you keep your good bacteria. And when have bacteria ever been cool?
Can you tell I YOLOed the ending of that? Who ends a piece with YOLT FFS?
Me, that’s who.
AND I REGRET NOTHING.
Ok, well, maybe that.