Last week I completed all the challenge levels in a game called Color Switch — available on iOS and Android. The game is fairly simple — an abstract version of Flappy Bird with more detailed obstacles than the lime green pillars. The game has coloured dots floating about, sometimes in a chaotic fashion, but somehow, I managed to figure out a pattern in this chaos — and could finish the game while following the beats of a song. Then I started thinking about how almost all games have a discernible pattern. They are divided by missions or completion of certain goal, shooting of given number of enemies, or crushing of candies with limited moves.
But not all games are linear — some do not tell me what is expected of me at the close of a level. The real game exists in this chaos between the beginning and the end. In TellTale’s The Walking Dead, the game disclaims that our choices and conversations in the game determine the sequential decisions and impact the game directly. Even an ignored sentence could make a zombie go for the kill. The power of choice, adds an element of surprise to everyone who plays the game.
Yet this chaos can be restricted within the narrow storyline. It is easier to identify the order in chaos only if I know how it must end. At the start of the level in Candy Crush I am told what I have to achieve, and hone my pattern identification skills to conclude the chapter. Candy Crush can be correlated to the paradox of a tiny chaotic pendulum — the starting point is different for every player, it goes around only the limited radius in a completely random fashion, but always stop at the same point.
It fools me into thinking that I am the one calling the shots — as I swipe the right candies having mastered the logic behind it. But the game wanted me to complete that level — is this completion just an imaginary incentive? Which is why, I would rather live life in the chaos, unsure of what the future holds in my story, unaware of the degree of impact that my choices have. Though a ‘Candy Crush’ life is easier to master, making a ‘Telltale Walking Dead’ decision will make me happier. (The writer is an economics graduate who spends her leisure time preparing for the zombie apocalypse)
All games are divided by completion of certain goal with limited moves. But some games do not tell me what is expected. The real game exists in this chaos