The Stanley Parable Mocks Death

The Stanley Parable is a game that mocks games. It uses the relationship between the narrator, the player, the character and the ending to comment on other video games. The “wife ending” is one that seems especially meaningful and reflective. Here is a video below for those who possibly haven’t played this ending.

This is the one moment in the game where the player’s task directly becomes Stanley’s task (meaninglessly pressing buttons). Each button press is supposed to complete a task, such as preparing dinner or going to work, however, the player has no interest in doing those things; the player only wants to make the narrator keep talking. If you choose not to press a button nothing happens. I think that the game is suggesting that the player’s task and Stanley’s task have been the same the whole time.  Ultimately each ending only brings the player back to the beginning—really making the actions feel inconsequential—just as Stanley’s button pressing is inconsequential. With each press of a button, the “apartment” transforms into Stanley’s office. The game begs the player and Stanley to consider the consequence of pressing the buttons for the rest of the game and his life, at the same time, it is the only way to progress to an ending. For the player, this just means the game restarting; for Stanley, it means pressing buttons until he dies.

Ultimately, I think this ending is pointing towards gamer’s endless need for completion and the disconnect between player and character. When continuing to press buttons, according to the narrator, will just make Stanley continue to live his boring life until he dies, the player continues to do so because they have an incessant need to play the game and find another ending. The player disregards the meaning for his character entirely. Death in video games is usually just a restart-from-checkpoint sort of paradigm. The Stanley Parable, even while begging the player to consider the death of his character, points out that there is no sanctity of life in most video games.

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One Response to The Stanley Parable Mocks Death

  1. weirdblueman says:

    This is a really interesting thought to take from the game, and this ending specifically! I personally thought that it was relating the player to Stanley, in the sense that the player whether or not in this game will continue to live their life as Stanley does, pressing buttons, never really accomplishing anything, until they die. So I read it as a much closer connection between the player and Stanley. It’s interesting to read about the disconnect you mention, because like you said even though Stanley dies at each ending I didn’t really care about that, I just wanted to see each and every ending.

    I guess some people tend to want to know all possible outcomes for things if that is a possibility, but the game does bring up the fact that if all outcomes are predetermined then life and death lose meaning. I think the game is simultaneously stating that life and death are meaningless, while also saying that our choices do matter on some level. It’s sort of hard to explain but I guess the best thing to take from it is that the game isn’t just saying one thing about life and death, but rather a lot of things. Maybe each ending is a different statement about something, and this one is mocking death, kind of like how you said.


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