The Stanley Parable: A Story of Choice

Ariane Arsenault

Professor Carolyn Jong

ENGL 398

February 20, 2015

The Stanley Parable: A Story of Choice

The Stanley Parable mainly focuses on capitalism and the option of choices and freedom in video games. The game, which is very thought-provoking, represents an ironic commentary on capitalism and attempts to break the fourth wall by offering interactive fiction.

The irony in the game is that it focuses on choices, but it still restricts the player due to the reduced controls. Even though there are many possibilities in the game, there is a suggested route explained by the narrator of the story, however, it is allowed not to do as said, but the narrator will try to make the player act otherwise. The narrator often says “let’s get out of here” in the demonstration of the game and includes himself, which shows the impact in which it implicates the player in the game. There are often paths that get barred after a decision is taken, which demonstrate the game deciding for the player, like for example, doors closing making it impossible to go back. The full game has more than one ending, and this creates more than one possibility for the player. This helps the gamer by choosing his own path and allowing him to have options. The suggested decisions are not forced, but they are highly influential, which may cause restrictions.

In the demonstration of the game, the player does not get to play the actual game. Instead, it is explained by the narrator how the game process was created. It often notes how irritating it must be for the player since it will give a bad reputation to the game. It critiques capitalism by showing that society is not interested when it comes to buying something that is unknown. There is also a play with the player’s expectations, and this shows that the game will be unexpected as well. The narrator often stresses on how it is important that the game pleases the gamer and that he gets his money’s worth. Porpentine mentions in “Creation under Capitalism and the Twine Revolution” that “our world where the average person is separated from their natural creativity and artistic agency isn’t an accident. It’s been carefully, deliberately engineered that way, not just by Apple, but by our entire capitalist society” (Porpentine). This can be closely connected to the Stanley Parable, where the main character in the game only presses buttons at work and receives orders every day. The game shows what there is beyond the office room, and it shows that it is important to question things instead of simply accepting them.

The interactive fiction in the demo provides insight on how capitalism interferes with the Stanley Parable, and the freedom associated with interactive fiction provides more decision-making with different endings. The irony embedded in the text and location is prevalent, which shows a critique on capitalism, freedom, and even video games.

Works Cited

Galactic Café. The Stanley Parable. 2013. PC.

Porpentine. “Creation Under Capitalism and the Twine Revolution.” Nightmare Mode. 25 November 2012. http://nightmaremode.thegamerstrust.com/2012/11/25/creation-under-capitalism/

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