Sunday, 4 September 2011

Choice simulation

There seems to be a general consensus these days that there is a potential downside to the incredible choice in the modern world. That having 75 different crisp flavours to choose from just makes it harder for us to choose and that when we do finally pick, we're left more anxious about whether we made the right decision. After all, what are the chances we picked the best one out of all those 75 options?

It's been suggested that people who have grown up with this find it harder to make choices, so either pick without conviction, or fail to make a decision at all.

What's interesting for me is that there seems to be a new craze in computer games, that potentially reflects this. Games that allow you to make a choice and live out those consequences - sometimes even across multiple games.

Now this is partly about games doing what they do best. Making choices is just another way of giving the player power within the virtual world, and helping them to make their own interactive story.

But games are also often about being able to do the things you can't in real life. Fight in a war, compete in an extreme sport, leap across rooftops. So is the recent popularity of games that show the consequences of your decisions actually about giving people a virtual environment, in which they can make a decision and go along with the result, in a way they simply couldn't handle in the real world. Are these games just a reflection of a generation unable to make big decisions and stick with them?

When we are so aware of all the potential jobs out there, the potential partners out there, that we can never be totally happy with the choices we've made - maybe it's nice to have a Sim live a life of conviction. You can live it all the way through, happy in the knowledge that you can always play again and try out those other options.

Maybe it's just a matter of time before we get Walker's Crisps Flavour Picker: The Game.