To Jump, or Not to Jump? That is the Question

I told myself that on this blog and the final paper that I was going to try and stay away from Dear Esther because it can be analyzed in many different ways but it has been my favorite game of the three, so, challenge accepted. The part in Dear Esther that really gets me is the end when you climb the tower on your way to the last narrative.  Why would he jump?   I feel like throughout, the narrative lead me to believe that the main character would get off the island. That he would safely escape the island but little did I know that I wasn’t interpreting the narrative properly.

Give or take you can interpret the story however you choose and that’s one of the reasons why I love this game so much. Just to add on to that, in class we discussed a lot about can you consider something of this medium a game, and I think absolutely because you are the one controlling the person as you travel through the narrative. Anyway, after further research I read an analysis of the game on digitalraconteurs.wordpress.com and it just puts everything in fantastic perspective for me and helped me understand so much more. When looking at the narrative more closely, Esther resembles the narrators wife and the narrator is battling his mind because he was drunk driving and accidentally killed her. Our narrator is dealing with grief and guilt and so to me that is why he jumps off the tower. In his mind he cant live with himself and by jumping off the tower he is committing suicide. I think this is an amazing part in the game because it is such a plot twist. Despite the fact that I thought he was going to get off the island safely, now that I understand the full narrative and why he jumped off the tower is more clear to me. I do believe that suicide is immoral but in this situation I can sort of see where the narrator is coming from. All that grief and guilt will eat ones soul. He, in a sense, murdered his significant other, and that is not something you can mentally and emotionally bear your whole life.

As far as mechanics go, you never see yourself and you are doing all of the work. Except at the end when you climb the tower. This is the only time in the game where you don’t control the narrator and it’s the first time you get to just watch the animation. I thought that this was quite interesting in that throughout the entire game you are doing all of the work, passing the checkpoints that trigger the narration and you would think that you would have climb yourself. Once the animation took offer my screen and the narrator started climbing on his own I knew it was the end of the game. Even though the end was its own animation, I still just never expected the narrator to jump but now I do see. I also see why the creators decided to take the end of the game out of the players control. If they didn’t, someone like me would climb back down the tower not knowing how it ends. Earlier in the game I experimented with walking deep into the water and got the “Come back…” because you cant die. So there would be no way for me to really know whether to jump or not. If it was up to me id think it would be a waste of time to climb that high if nothing was going to happen, just another dead end like all of the buildings, I would climb down and look for another way.

The ending to the game is so interesting and controversial both mechanically and narratively. I felt though that this was an important point in the game and ties all the narrations together quite well for it being a very intricate and intellectual type of game. Definitely requires a lot of thinking in order to understand and piece all of the metaphors together.

 

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3 Responses to To Jump, or Not to Jump? That is the Question

  1. When I was playing the game it became apparent very quickly that I was not the one in control of this story. There was a pretty direct path that I was required to follow. When I reached this portion of the game I was a little bit terrified that the game was going to make me jump off of the tower. It was almost a relief when the game took over for me. I really like how in your post you talk about the level of control within the game. I’m wondering what you think the narrative implications are with the game taking over the controls at that specific moment. What do you think it says about the role of story within the game?

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  2. zucconi says:

    When I was playing and walked out into the water, I figured that the “come back” was the narrator feeling like he still had more of the story to tell or something. But after finishing and understanding some of the overarching metaphors, I think it goes a long with him still feeling the need to be absolved from Esther’s death and released from his guilt therefore he keeps going, looking for answers throughout the rest of the game. It isn’t until the end of his journey when he feels forced to commit suicide.

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  3. blueshoes324 says:

    I also think the ending to the game is intriguing. Throughout the whole game, the player is presented with the pieces of the narrative. We explore and explore until we finally reach the end where we are able to piece the whole thing together and he decides to jump of the cliff. It made me think back to that underwater scene where we saw the hospital bed. I began to think that who ever we were playing was on that bed. And that whole story was a dream he/she was having. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that if I was correct and we indeed were on this bed, the ending scene was us dying. I thought that we could have been Esther in a coma (because she was hit by a car) and that the come back voice/ the narrator was her husband telling her to keep fighting and survive. But that’s just my thought.

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