318/366 – Grey Area Game Endings
I spoke a bit yesterday about how the path to success in games, because it isn’t as clear cut or singular, is a good thing, but to be honest, that’s not really 100 percent successful unless you bring it to a meaningful, and just as multi-faceted, conclusion. In this, I think that the ending of a game, if it isn’t completely black and white, is definitely something that is needed in these kinds of games with forking choices.
Game endings have obviously evolved to fit this mentality. Many of them were, and continue to be, singular, relying on simple gameplay and skill to make it to the conclusion of the game. There’s nothing wrong with this, really – I mean some games are intended to have a scripted outcome based on a linear path, which means if your path is linear with not many choices, a linear ending based on those choices is what’s expected. As games evolved to have more than one ending, it got a bit more complex, but not by much – there’s a good ending and a bad ending and it’s clear which one is which and that’s the end of it. Usually that involves a singular or at the most couple of critical choices in the game, where choosing one or the other has a certain amount of consequence that clearly leads to one ending or the other.
Nowadays, in some games, you can have multiple endings, and getting to those multiple endings, even though there are a couple of critical choice points there is a certain degree of measurement throughout the game to get you to one or the other. You can choose to be merciful in one instance and ruthless in the other, or trend towards a certain method of choice through the game. You can find a couple of side optional quests that may contribute to the ending you receive if you choose a certain way to go that has consequences later. You can come to a critical junction in the game and depending on what you have accomplished before, you may or may not have choices available to you that affect the outcome of things. All of this comes with a layer of complexity added onto those choices and actions you take during the game, where there isn’t just a good or bad choice, where there isn’t a black or white idea, but one that is grey as well. And that leads to game endings having more nuance and greyness to them as well.
Granted, as I said before, a grey area ending, where things may not be the best, or the worst, but simply are, still has to make sense in the plotline of the game and the choices made by the player. Just having one doesn’t make sense unless the player has been measured to do the things that would contribute to that kind of unclear or uncertain outcome as far as endings are concerned. But the point is that they’re a welcome change to the binary or singular ending choices we do get even in some of today’s games. They provide an idea that what choices you make in life aren’t always clear cut, a reflection of the actual, real-life human experience of making them, and that, in and of itself, is what makes games more realistic, and therefore more enjoyable.