The Amazing & Astonishing RPS Advent Calendar: Day 20

Alec’s head:

I’m being mocked. We’re all being mocked. This is the purpose of The Stanley Parable: it exists to mock us for playing it, and for playing other games past and present. All that it is, the few interactions it allows, is purely to serve this mockery. There is nothing I can to do to not be mocked, other than exit the game. In fact, exiting the game is the only meaningful choice it offers – all others it pretends to have are simply activating different lines of mocking dialogue.

I do nothing other than walk onwards – oh, occasionally backwards, but the result is really the same – and have my lifetime of game-playing and game analysis sneered at. I am a pedestrian within one long cutscene whose only purpose is to say that videogames are a bit silly. I don’t need a videogame to tell me that videogames are a bit silly.

In the year of Going For A Walk games, The Stanley Parable is the one that is most guilty of being a scripted rollercoaster that reads prepared lines aloud to a player without agency, and it’s not even its own rollercoater – it’s a track cobbled together from parts borrowed from other games’ work, bulked out by implied reference to others still. The Stanley Parable lives or dies on knowing those games well enough to find these references funny. Without this post-modernist parody, what exactly is left?

Left door or right door, then? Depends on which one says ‘Exit To Desktop’ on it.

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