Blog Post 4: The Museum Ending’s Meaning of Death

In The Stanley Parable, the ending that the player receives from following the hallway that is marked “escape” right before they enter the Mind Control Facility, has a rather peculiar focus on death. As soon as you begin walking down the hallway, the narrator says that although he scribble on the wall says “escape”, Stanley is actually walking towards his death. At the end of the hall, there is a rectangle in the floor that you walk into, and the screen goes pitch black making you feel like Stanley has died like the narrator promised. Then the screen flashes back on and Stanley is standing on a platform on a suspended conveyor belt heading towards two hydraulic walls that are slammed together to work as a compactor. At this point, the narrator’s voice has changed to a British woman’s voice, I would say similar to Judi Dench. Once Stanley’s platform comes in between the two hydraulic walls, the narrator starts to go off on a rant about how he is going to die. The walls start to shoot towards Stanley to crush his bones and he dies! But wait, the walls stop halfway and are frozen in place. The female narrator then shares a thought provoking statement about death. She says “Stanley was already dead from the moment he hit start.” The platform Stanley is standing opens beneath him and he falls, screen goes black and he is placed in to a museum.

What did the narrator mean about Stanley already being dead? I personally took it to mean that the moment Stanley pressed the start button on either his computer when he arrived at work, he was dead, or when the player who is controlling Stanley hit start to play the game. I believe it has more to do with Stanley pressing the start button on his computer. If the writer’s of the game used it in this way, it would be a metaphor for how people get tied into mindless jobs that end up taking over their lives. People who have careers like that tend to be very bland, boring, and don’t really seem to be “living”.

As soon as I started walking around the museum, I was instantly reminded of when I was younger and I played the first Ratchet & Clank which had a secret museum you could find. Both game’s museums were based around the making of each respective game. They both give the player an insight into what it took to make the game. I believe this stood as a nice little distraction to entertain the players, but overall had no real value to the meaning of the Museum Ending.

After you scan through everything in the museum, there is an exit doorway at the top floor that leads down a flight of steps and  to a dark room that has a banner saying “The Stanley Parable” and a lever that has the words “On” and “Off” on it. As you approach the lever, the narrator starts laughing and says “Although they wish two destroy each other, they actually need each other” talking about the terms “On” and “Off”. This would go with the metaphor about people working a boring job and living a boring life to the point that they have no life. It could stand as the point where that person realizes that they have a choice and can either “turn off” their boring life or “keep it on.”

Once Stanley pulls the lever off, the screen goes black and after a couple moments, he appears back on the suspended platform in between the frozen hydraulic walls. The female narrator then tells Stanley in a panic “The only real way to not die is to press the escape button and restart the game!” or else he would die. The final point I have that links this to the same metaphor as before, is that once the person realizes they can “turn off” their boring life, they have the choice to restart their life and live one that would truly mean they are living. It also proves the point in life that it is never too late to start again with something, or else if the person doesn’t restart, they will just continue to mean nothing more than if they were dead.

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3 Responses to Blog Post 4: The Museum Ending’s Meaning of Death

  1. mjd105 says:

    This idea of restarting ones life or turning off ones boring life is really interesting to me. I haven’t really thought about it in that way and I’m glad it was proposed. On top of being able to restart your life in this ending, which i also reached, the ending makes it seem like there is an out even when you dont think there is. After a while of sitting with the black screen it basically forces you to restart in order to not die. I found this especially interesting that technically you couldn’t die from not restarting but maybe it will help in ones life.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. rwl14 says:

    This whole ending reminds me of the 1983 movie “WarGames”, which deals with nuclear war, video games, and tic-tac-toe. I would rather not spoil it, but an important remark towards the end is “Strange Game. The only winning move is not to play.” This is essentially the message of the Stanley Parable in this ending, as Stanley is doomed from the very beginning, and the only way to win in this game is simply not to play. As for the comparison to life, I feel it also fits; rather than live the boring corporate life that seems to run society, it is better to live life differently in a way that suits oneself best.

    Liked by 1 person

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