Wednesday 28 January, 2015
Day 5 Started with me getting a knock at the door and two shady characters showing up asking to talk. Knowing the situation and the nature of the game till now, I ignored the knocking in fear of it being a trap. Having no weapons to defend myself I did the thing that I would do in such a situation myself.
I had decided not to risk it. I let go of a potential dialogue option i.e. content for the fear of the wellbeing of my characters. I feel this says a lot about the brilliant way that the game was able to make me care about my character for me to make that choice. The thought also crossed my mind that maybe they were looking for help but again, I felt in no charitable mood when my own house was barely making ends meet. I contemplated for a while whether that made me a bad person. I decided not to dwell on it for long and spent the day doing chores.
As night came, I picked Katia for scavenging since today she was the only one who wasn’t injured or tired. I went against my original plan and used the female character. I decided to scavenge an area I had been to before, knowing that it would be safe. Opening new cabinets in this area, I found coffee. I saw that Katia liked coffee and was asking for it in the in-game dialogue. Though coffee was an item that was going to bring comfort to only one character in particular, I decided to go for it. Even though it occupied one whole inventory slot when it could have been used for something useful for the whole group. Here I was letting my bias and my need for overcompensation get in the way of the needs of the many. I wasn’t proud of it but I just felt it was necessary when I did it.
I came back to find out that the night had not been calm and Bruno had been attacked. His status showed “Sad” in his emotions. That made me stop and take notice as the first thought that came to my mind was to think how far this was going to be taken? Does he go from “Sad” to “Very Sad”? Does that go somewhere beyond just sadness? Does this game lets the characters kill themselves to simulate human emotion in war? Would I experiment with the people I’ve grown attached with just to find out if that happens? I researched the game and found out that the game does let characters commit suicide if they are pushed beyond a point.
My thoughts now went back to the moonshine and the implied benefits of having supplies and machinery to make moonshine. Alcohol is a sure stress reliever and now I felt as if it would have helped in elevating the emotions of my characters and keeping future suicidal thoughts away. Suddenly the purpose of the games objects made a lot of sense beyond tradable item or luxury. I now started looking at each item’s descriptions carefully trying to find the hidden gameplay significance of the items. The cigarettes, coffee beans and moonshine ingredients now all fit into the scheme of the game. It was a sudden moment of clarity.
I feel the suicide mechanic is a very bold addition to the game as I can’t think of any games with playable characters that commit suicide. It is not even dwelt on in the Sims games. I reckon it would be a punch to the gut to experience it first-hand while playing the game but my life as a graduate student is hard enough. I have grown rather weary of the heavy themes in the game and would like to play a game of Quake 3 as soon as possible to alleviate the depression.