The Witcher

RPG’s like Witcher 3 are closer to life than cinema or books (meta, and kinda long read).

TheWitcher3 - RPG's like Witcher 3 are closer to life than cinema or books (meta, and kinda long read).
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Before I start, I should say that I'm really a 28 years old non gamer. I was born in a middle class family in a poor south Asian country called Bangladesh so my childhood wasn't gaming heavy either. It's not that I didn't love gaming, I did. But my PC didn't have good enough hardware to smoothly run San Andreas when it come out (the gaming shops used to sell pirated copies here). I absolutely loved Vice City, though the pirated copies I found here were always without sound. I mostly loved RTS like Commandos 2 (not 3) and stronghold crusader and AOE. I probably lost my passion for games because my PC hardware couldn't keep up with the accelerated requirements in graphics hardware. I hardly remember playing any game in the last 10 years or so.

Now, coronavirus again forced me to spend time in new ways. So I again picked up my beloved RTSs I played in my childhood, but soon the good RTSs were gone. So I tried to explore how much games have evolved in the last 10 years and what are the best genres and best games. I wasn't at all familiar with the RPG genre because those were not popular in Dhaka back in early 2000's. Internet wasn't big here, and English wasn't my primary language, so I didn't even know those existed. I really played what others played. So I thought this thing looks interesting, I'd try it out. The general youtube consensus was that Witcher 3 is the best of best among RPGs.

So I've been playing the famous witcher 3 for a couple of days now, and it has lots and lots of cutscenes. For the first hour or so I enjoyed the aspect that I had to active engage in the conversations. But soon it started to get on my nerves and I started choosing the highest option possible, because I discovered that more often than not choosing later options would just ultimately force me to choose number 1 option. And I cannot completely skip the cutscenes even if I wanted to, the choosing thing is mandatory. Though no matter what I choose, the final outcome of a cutscene doesn't seem to be affected (though I assume there would be some cutscenes where different choices would lead to some minor deviation in the story arc because otherwise the developers could not have justified the participation of the player).

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Watching movie or reading is easier because you are passive, you don't have to choose anything for yourself. I'm not saying it's 'difficult' to choose from the dialogues, but to me it's just ever so slightly annoying. I do like the feeling of agency, but I'm also aware the player is often given a 'choice' which isn't really choice, and I feel rather like a machine. And the only thing worse than being a machine is being aware of being a machine. I envy the character inside the game for (probably) not knowing he's an automata too. I'm not in any way faulting the developers here, they had to work within their limitation and they've done a wonderful job here.

There's a long winded philosophical debate about free will, I'm not getting into that. But I just figured that life is more similar to these sorta RPG than the passive media like books and movies. Yes, the choices or appearance of choice are seemingly much diverse than in an RPG, because God/gods or whatever the hell runs this universe thingy seems to have more than 8GB RAM and 1TB HDD/SSD. But limitations are obvious here too. If you're a human, you cannot suddenly change and start your story as a penguin in the mid game, for example. I wonder why.

And like games, life gives us the appearance of choices, but ends in death regardless of which character you play or whatever you do.

So, RPGs seem to have a lot more common with reality the other media.

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