The lights are on
Veteran Member - Level 11
A lot has been said about The Walking Dead video game, last
year's surprise episodic hit from Telltale Games that has many in the industry
voicing their praise and a few others their disdain for the game. I haven't
completely finished the entire series yet (just finished up Episode 3 last
weekend) as my family decided to play through the game together whenever our schedules
align, which seems to happen every few weeks or so. Yes, for family night (I
can sense the anti-video gamers cringing in shock now) we all gather 'round the
living room TV with one of us (so far just my daughter) in charge of the
controls while the rest of us sit there yelling...
"Go over there."
"Pick that up."
"B. Pick B. NO, I said pick B!"
"Mash the button. Mash the button. Come on, faster."
"My word, I can't believe that just happened."
"Phew. That was pretty graphic."
"Who did we lose?"
"I've got a bad feeling about this."
"Don't open that, there's a zombie in there."
"Wow. I didn't see that coming."
"Ouch. You didn't mash the button fast enough."
"Just try it."
"Well, try it again!"
"Use that over there."
"There's how many of us left?"
"Can you pick that up?"
"Why can't you pick that up?"
"You ought to be able to pick that up."
"This would a lot easier if you could pick that up."
"You know whichever you choose, the other one is going to
"OMG, did you really just choose that without consulting the
One of my favorite parts of The Walking Dead is probably not
yours. Maybe it is and I just don't know it yet. It's something I haven't
really seen anybody discuss, at least in the various articles and stories I've
read. It doesn't have anything to do with the story telling or the characters;
it has nothing to do with the game mechanics that require you to make life and
death decisions; it certainly isn't the Quick Time Events (QTE) you have to
perform to avoid being eaten by a zombie.
Now, some of you might be thinking you have it figured out,
that playing the game as a family and experiencing the pain and heartache of
every decision is my favorite part, which would obviously not be your favorite
part. Well, I do admit that is high on the list as I am a firm believer in the family that plays together, stays
But no, that's not it either. It probably should be and
maybe deep down it is and I'm just not admitting it to myself, because
truthfully, I don't know why I am so fascinated with this particular part of
the game that I am about to share with you.
And don't worry...this is spoiler
My favorite part of The Walking Dead video game is - at the
end of each episode, at least on the Xbox 360 version and I assume on the
others as well, there is a summary screen that shows all of the decision points
you have to make throughout the episode and how you and others who have played
the game responded.
(All the important info has been edited out - spoiler free)
Sure, I'm satisfied with the experience the game delivers (I
dare say I'm enjoying it). And yes, I absolutely love playing it together with
my family - listening to each member debate the morality of their choices or
offer up solutions to the puzzles. It has resulted in some rather entertaining
family nights, for sure.
But as we play each episode and each time one of the tough
decisions come up, I consider first, what would I decide; second, what will my
family decide; and finally, what did everyone who has already played this
I don't (or should I say we don't) rush to get to the end,
but seeing the summary report at the end of the round is certainly the
highlight for me. Perhaps it's because I'm fascinated with statistics and the
lengths developers go to predicting gamer behavior. It's a topic I've discussed
in other blogs - how can I do something that I feel is completely and totally
off the wall, yet discover the developers took it into consideration. And not
only took it into consideration, but expected me to do that. I suppose it's
that whole chaos theory of finding order and patterns amidst the confusion.
Three episodes in and the results have been mixed thus far.
My daughter was working on independent ops with a few of the choices in episode
2. As she made a choice contrary to what the rest of the family thought was the
best choice, we'd sit there with dropped jaws in disbelief. But by the end, as
we reviewed the summary report, we discovered she was far from alone with some
of her decisions.
Episode 3 seemed far more balanced, but even we were
surprised with how the overall population of gamers responded to some of the
morally demanding decisions. I can only imagine how things will play out in the
final two episodes as the game finally concludes but I eagerly await the
results - our own and those of our fellow gamers. I hear I'm in for a real
treat (tear jerker might be more appropriate).
One of my favorite parts of The Walking Dead, is probably
not yours...unless of course your favorite part is the final summary report
highlighting the tough choices you made along the way that got you to that
screen in the first place.
Before I close though, consider this feature and how it
could be incorporated into other games. Sure we have games that highlight other
individual stats and comparisons made with our peers at the end of the round,
but most games that offer you "choose the red pill or blue pill" scenarios...seldom
do we get to see what most gamers choose by comparison.
"You take the blue
pill - the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to
believe. You take the red pill - you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep
the rabbit-hole goes."
Some games are natural and obvious choices like Mass Effect
- how many of you who played Mass Effect 3 let Garrus outshoot you in scene on
the Citadel where you take a break for a little bro-time? I think it would be
amazing if at periodic intervals, or perhaps even a feature available on the
terminal in my cabin, if I could pull up a summary report that shows the
choices I was faced with, what decision I made, and how other gamers responded
to the same choices (and if it does exist and I don't know about it, then I am
embarrassed I somehow missed it). Where this might be particularly interesting
is the Suicide Mission from Mass Effect 2 - seeing how gamers as a whole chose
the characters they did and what the success and failure rates were.
"Statistics are used
much like a drunk uses a lamppost: for support, not illumination." -Vin Scully
In closing, The Walking Dead is truly a unique experience
that proves not all great games have to utilize a traditional format or be
published by a big name publisher; that a game with great artwork, interesting
characters and a tense plot line can be successful; and that the choices you
make can have a huge impact on the outcome of the game. Now if I could just get
a summary report for who agrees and who disagrees, I'd be set.