Professor Carolyn Jong
ENGL 225B – Video Games and/as Literature
17 February 2016
Ideology can be seen as a list of values, rules or doctrine which guide an individual or group (Dictionary.com). All video games contain the ideologies of the developers as they see the game world and as a result players adapt their own values in each game to portray the main character as they see it or to survive and beat the game. Gods Will be Watching (Deconstructeam, 2014) focus’ on survival with limited actions per day and many tasks to complete, the play has to determine the value of the tasks by priority. Games like Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Eidos Montreal, 2011) and Undertale (Toby Fox, 2015) allow players to make decisions to achieve different end states for the game.
Sargent Burden is the player character in Gods Will be Watching, he is in charge of the survival of all the other characters around the camp. The player must choose to send people to hunt, fix the radio, make medicine, or get wood for the fire. The player also must talk to people or have everyone talk to the psychiatrist to reduce the characters stress levels. All these tasks cost ‘actions’ which are limited each day as a result the player must decide which tasks are the most important. Matt Garite writes “When the player ‘willingly’ subjects herself to the rules of the game, these rules become internalized or embodied by the player.” . In this case the player accepts that they must complete the actions which give the best benefits each day in order to survive the forty days. At first a player may think that gathering food and fixing the radio are the most important tasks, but after playing for a bit one can see the having everyone talk to the psychiatrist is critical to the groups survival. After a few tries the player naturally accepts the rules and changes their playstyle to adapt.
Developers also express their ideologies in games where the player can make key moral choices to determine the outcome of the game. Both Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Undertale have a system where the player can choose to kill enemies or not. But in both case’s all outcomes are still created by the developer and represent their perception of right or wrong. These instances where choice is available “is ultimately translatable as an extended sequence of multiple-choice questions.” (Garite, 12). Each time the player chooses to kill an enemy, it is a question with two answers and the players choice will not be based necessarily on what they want at the moment but to get the outcome at the end of the game which they desire. The agency given to player become false since all outcomes are decided by the developer, “Choice is granted only at that moment when decisions have all been made.” (Garite, 12) therefor the player makes decisions to achieve an outcome, out of the ones put forward by the developer that they believe is best suited for the main character.
When playing a game the player naturally adapts to the rules and doctrine established but the developer, in some cases it is necessary to beat the game. In other cases the where the game has multiple end states the player then chooses the ending by making decisions in game, but all ending are decided by the developer. A player will make a decision based on what will result in the desired ending for the character instead of making the decision they would for themselves.
Garite, Matt. “The Ideology of Interactivity (or, Video Games and the Taylorization of Leisure).” Level Up Conference Proceedings, Utrecht: University of Utrecht, November, 2003.
Gods Will be Watching. Deconstructeam. 2014. Video game.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Eidos Montreal. 2013. Video game.
Undertale, Toby Fox, 2015. Video game.