While the Stanley Parable presents a variety of interesting moments to focus on, such as multiple endings, the narrator’s mocking voice, the decision to follow instructions or disobey, I prefer to focus on one particular moment that I peaked my interest while playing.
In order to understand what I’ll be focusing on, I’ll set the scene. Once Stanley finally rises from his desk in his office, I walked him to the first choice: two doors. Instead of going through the door to the left, that we are suggested to go through, I went through the right door. I continued to disobey the narrator’s instructions to get back on path until I came to a room that resembled the warehouse, or shipping room. It had a lift that if you walk onto, will rise up and move forward to take you to the other side of the warehouse. While moving across the room, the narrator begs you, or rather Stanley, to reconsider your choice to abandon his opinions. He suggests that the choice to not follow his instructions affects “her.” He begs Stanley to think about “her” before he continues. Finally when Stanley gets to the other side of the warehouse and can’t go back, I walked him through the doors and down a lift and the scene goes black and resets. Once the screen comes back on, there is a women’s voice, presumably “her,” and she is talking about making dinner and how she can open the door in a second. Suddenly the women’s voice drops off and is computerized into deep, monotone sounds. The door flings open and a plain, white, undressed mannequin is standing at the door way to what I assume is Stanley’s apartment.
The narrator’s voice comes back only to mock Stanley, saying things along the lines of “What did you think, you really had a loving wife at home?” How pathetic. As Stanley enters his apartment, he is trapped in the main living room and kitchenette. With nowhere to escape to, the narrator gets more and more patronizing, giving Stanley commands to do, with phrases popping up onto the screen. Phrases like “Please press ‘9’ to spend time with the boys.”
The initial commands are all family oriented, but of course, as the narrator kindly reminds Stanley, he has no family and with every attempt to follow the command, a piece of his apartment is morphed back into his office. After multiple commands, the narrator asks Stanley to resist pressing the next command. Begs him not to. So I waited to see what would happen if Stanley didn’t follow command. But after minutes, nothing had happened, so I pressed the command. Finally with this finally disobedience, the whole apartment becomes his office and Stanley is told to “Please press ‘E’ to question nothing.” Followed by “Please die.” The screen goes black and the game restarts.
What are we, as the reader of this narrative, supposed to think of this? The Stanley Parable focuses on death in many of the endings, but I found this one particularly important to dissect. As the scene opens to the apartment, it is the first glimpse into Stanley’s other life that we experience in the game. The narrator insists on forces commands like about family, like telling his wife he loves her, telling the kids a story, spending time with the boys. The commands parallel a normal, loving life with Stanley’s, and with each command, there is a parallel response, such as telling your wife you love her becomes the mannequin turning into half of the desk.
The narrator insists that Stanley is wasting his life, how his persistence of pressing buttons is causing his life to waste away without meaning. This assertion is lamented with the final command, trapped inside the office, telling Stanley to “please die.” The choice of the game’s creators to have Stanley’s home become his office is an interesting narrative choice since it draws the conclusion that Stanley let his work become his life. And a life of only work is what killed him. What if Stanley hadn’t spent his life pressing buttons and following commands? Would he actually have a loving wife and sons and a home that wasn’t his office? Between the narrator’s nagging comments and the inability to make any other choice but follow the commands, we are lead to think about how Stanley’s life could have been if he had a family, if he didn’t always follow commands.
Overall, these are my beginning thoughts for a possible final essay, so thoughts, critics, and suggestions are welcome. Thanks!