VG boundaries 4

Power of Choice in Video Games

The power of choice is very important in a game. If the player does not have much choice, then he will feel less powerful, which will naturally make him feel less immersed in the game. The less choices a player has, the less they will feel like they are playing the game but rather that the game is playing them.

Another criteria that is important is the linear vs branching narratives in games. Linear narratives follow the story line fairly straightforward and has one final ending. On the other hand, branching narratives have many paths the player can take that leads to different endings. Branching narratives give you much more choice within the game.

In Undertale, the player had the choice to kill or not to kill. As you moved your character around in the game, you would occasionally run into some monsters that you either could talk to and leave without anyone getting harmed or kill it and continue on your journey. You also had freedom of choice to walk anywhere you wanted and interact with anything you wanted. The player was in control the whole time, and there wasn’t really a narrative to guide you along. However, the more monsters you killed, the worse of an ending you would get. If you ended up letting all the monsters live, then you get the “best” ending. Therefore, the player has the freedom to make their own choices, but his choices led to different endings, which made Undertale a branching narrative.

On the other hand, The Last of Us has more of a linear narrative than a branching one. Although you do have control over what the character does, everyone who plays the game has the same experience since it is always the same narrative. There are no multiple endings that you can achieve by doing something differently, unlike Undertale. Everyone gets the same ending. However, the narrative for The Last of Us is much stronger than Undertale since the developers did not have to spend time and effort into creating several endings.


3 comments on “Power of Choice in Video Games

  1. Pingback: VOCAB: Post-Play Narrative Modding | VG boundaries 4

  2. ariana825
    May 8, 2018

    Hi Jennybean,
    After playing Undertale and Last of Us, which game do you think was more immersive for you? How did the different narratives (branching vs. linear) affect your gaming experience and which one did you enjoy more? I find that while branching and linear narratives are both appealing to me the first time I play them, I find branching narratives more enjoyable in the long-run because I am able to play as many times as I want and I will always get a different ending. Based on the different choices I am able to make in games with branching narratives, I am also able to construct different identities for my characters, which makes for more interesting gameplay.


  3. Matthew Chow
    May 13, 2018

    I’m curious after reading this post – what do you think is more important for creating the experience of agency? Is it the ability to choose or the impact of your choices. Even with Undertale, I think the “impact” of your choice matters more than the ability to make that choice, but with Last of Us, it would seem that the opposite is true.


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This entry was posted on May 5, 2018 by in Game Reviews, Post, Theory & Criticism and tagged , , , .

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