I would just like to warn everyone that there will be spoilers in this article and also trigger warning that there is mention of rape and assault in this article so if you are triggered by that i advise you click of this article.
The Witness(2016) is a first person point of view game with no story, barely any action and no music. Created by Jonathan Blow, a game developer known for making players question their every decision.In this game, after exiting a cave the player is sent to a desert island where they have to complete puzzles within a maze. To push the player thought process further, he has hidden audio tapes of philosophers, scholars, writers and all sorts of different artists talking about a wide range of subjects such as atheisme, borders, knowing oneself and art.
This is a very complexe game so we are going to concentrate on the two different types of puzzles that are present within this game. These riddles can be found 15 minutes into the game and are designed to make the players change their way of thinking. If the player focuses solely on the riddle itself he will never find the answer because the answer is hidden in a passageway just in front of him for example. The first maze is shaped like the trunk and branches of a tree. To answer the riddle the player has to point to the branch where an apple previously mentioned in the game had grown. The key to the second maze relies on the player tracing the contours of rocks, trees or other natural elements, so sometimes he will have to look around to find the right angle or imagine the height of a tree that has fallen. The answers to these two puzzles are quite unique, and no matter what defines the player “In real life” he will have to think like everyone else. His past, his encounters, zodiac sign and social category are of no importance in the face of the natural instinct every human being has that pushes us to think like everyone else. Does this instinct imply that there is an innate human nature? Is it conditioning us to deny our uniqueness ? I would like to set myself apart from Jonathan Blow with the analysis of Nieztsche theory that “ God is dead !” and try to further it by explaining his theory by talking about another video game: Hollow Knight (2017). First of all though I would like to mention the australian developers of the game who are known as Team Cherry. In this Metroidvania ( subgenre of action-adventure made popular by the games Metroid (1986) and Castlevania (1997) ) the player embodies a young knight arriving on the unknown lands of Hallownest. You quickly understand your role in the game: you must choose whether you kill the God named Radiance or canalise his power through you. In the bestiary Radiance is described as : “ The plague, the infection, the madness that haunts the corpses of Hallownest… the light that screams out from the eyes of this dead Kingdom. What is the source? I suppose mere mortals like myself will never understand.
Her story is a classic one, at first she was a source of life, but sadly she was imprisoned by a greedy king who wanted to become a God. She was forced to transform and take possession of the weakest people in the realm.
We can compare this to some of Nietzsche’s findings, the difference being that the god Radiance is represented by the christian God and the greedy king resembles capitalism and the alienation brought along by the industrial revolution. For the philosopher, this murder (the neglect of God that led to his death) inplies a change within the deicides minds. There are now two solutions: be weak or ascend to the rank of a God. Hollow Knight retraces this dichotomy. With the exception of one character and our knight, everyone had lost all hope of being rid of Radiance the wrongdoer. Nietzsche would qualify them as weak since they’re unable to step up and play the role that was intended for them. And what of our character? He can also choose to undo his role by deciding to limit Radiance’s powder instead of getting rid of him all together. By doing this, you accept defeat and acknowledge that the role you were given is too demanding for one person. This defeat leads us to ask the following questions: Do we all have the same role to play? If so are we capable of carrying it to fruitions ? Would we be able to do it for the rest of our lives? Do we all have the same nature?
The two games previously mentioned take place in purely fictional worlds whereas this last one is very much based on reality. Life Is Strange : Before The Storm ( August 2017) takes place in the American University of Blackwell situated in a small town called Arcadia Bay. We follow the story of Chloe Price, a young student whose life isn’t going too well. Her father recently passed away in a car crash. Her mother is dating a man who represents everything Chloe hates and her best friend has moved away. All these events lead to serious consequences in her life. In University, even though she was one of best in her class during all of her school years, she starts missing classes, her grades plummet, and she turns to drugs which leads her to owing a lot of money to her dealer. In this point and click narrative created by Deck Nine Games we are going to follow the stories of a few youngsters, uncovering all of their problems and insecurities. For example, someone who is going to become extremely important to Chloe is Rachel whose life is going to be overturned very quickly. Some are discovering their sexuality, others racisme, fatphobia, parental pressure, some students are assaulted, raped, and drugged. To be put shortly all the horrors banned by society can be found in this video game. All this is a huge weight for the students and also for the townspeople of Arcadia Bay which proves that a human nature cannot exist in the face of oppression, recurring problems, or the structural problems caused by a society that prones individualisme. Social trauma forces people to deal in their own way. All these problems rain down on us and stop us from ascending to the rank of God as Nietzsche so hoped we would. Even if video games hadn’t created a tightly knit community between people with shared characteristics that qualify as G@m3R, they have uncovered new answers and a different point of views on the questions regarding the existence of human nature. Even if video games cannot have the answers to everything, they encourage us to ask questions and develop our curiosity just like in the Croatian game; The Talos principle (december 2014) where you are an Androïde, born to a God of creation in search of your identity, free will and self consciousness, will you prove the existence of human nature by doing what everyone else does? Or will you try to evade natural laws and society like Stanley in The Stanley Parable (october 2013)
The Witness trailer : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPMMKFX78x0
Hollow knight Trailer : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAO2urG23S4
Life Is Strange : Before The Storm trailer : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QD_4St79-Q
The Talos Principle Trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAVh4_wnOIw
The Stanley Parable Trailer : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1S796fXtl4