7.4. Using Choice & ConsequencesΒΆ

So how much choice do players need? Should every game be an open world with unlimited options? Not necessarily. The goal of choice is to give the player agency - to make them feel like their choices matter.

Also note that having control over important choices is different than having control over their consequences. While I can chose whether to go to the store for groceries or not, I can not chose to have not going to the store result in having food in my fridge. I choose actions because I anticipate their consequences - I hope that on the way to the store I don’t get in a car accident, but there is always a chance that things do not work out the way I planned.

In real life, if I did get into a car accident, I could probably attribute it to some other choice I made. I did not stop at a stop sign. Or maybe I did not pause long enough to watch what the other driver was doing and realize they did not see their stop sign. But in video games, sometimes the consequence: “ooops, you got in a car accident” follow directly from a choice that seems only partially related: “you decide to go get groceries”.

As discussed a few pages back, a choice where the player has no information about the possible consequences is a blind one and generally not engaging as a choice. It is OK to have consequences be impactful - but care must be taken to make them meaningful without feeling like arbitrary punishment for a choice the player was making blindly. Extra Credits does a great job explaining this:

Materials on this page adapted from:
Game Design Concepts by Ian Schreiber (CC BY-NC 3.0)