Life is Strange is a story-based interactive video game much like the games made by Telltale Games. The game revolves around Max, an ordinary and almost forgettable girl that finds out she has the power to rewind time for short periods and has these visions of an impending storm that is coming to destroy her town. Throughout the game the player is given choices during key moments that will shape how the story will proceed. There are many great themes and discussion that stem from Life is Strange but most interesting ones are how the interactive nature of the game provides insight into the player’s moral compass and the question of free will in the context of time travel.
As with any video game, Life is Strange has an interactive element to it. The player is given options during Max’s interactions with the other characters on how they would like her to respond. I found this gave me a very good sense of my own moral compass and what my own personal sense of justice is. There are some great morally ambiguous situations that the player must make decisions on. One of my favorites, is when the security guard is harassing Kate and the player is given the option to intervene or take a picture of it. This is a great example of two very different forms of justice. Some people feel the need to get personally involved in situations they feel are not right (as I did). The other sense of justice is more discrete form. The other option is to take a photo of the harassment. I see this as evidence gathering. Someone that takes this path is thinking more about the consequences of their actions, i.e. who would believe them or how do you convince someone of what you saw. The people that like to get involve are usually a little more impulsive in their decision making.
For as long as the idea of time travel has been around there have been debates surrounding consequences (the butterfly effect) and free will (fate/destiny vs. random chaos). When someone possesses the power to travel through time, at first glance you think that it would be cool, they can go change the most embarrassing moments in their lives. But once you start diving deeper you begin to think, if that hadn’t happened to them would they be any different? How does changing their own lives affect everyone they come into contact with. This is the root of the free will debate, does changing events that affect more than one individual mean that those people no longer have control over their actions? Personally, I think that having the power to influence time is irrelevant to this debate. Humans lives are ruled by cause and effect. When an event occurs the decisions that people make are based on the effects of that event, these decisions in turn, cause other events to occur. So no matter how someone with the ability to time travel alters events, in the moments after that event has occurred the others involved still have the free will to react to the effects of that event.
Hey Kyle, I always love reading your posts. I would like to think that if I was ever in a situation where I saw one person harassing someone else that I would intervene rather than report, but if personal experience has taught me anything, it’s that you don’t know how you’ll react in a difficult situation until you’re in the thick of it.
It’s interesting that you brought up the concept of encroaching on the free-will of bystanders when you have the powers of time-travel. I agree with you for the most part, however I believe that everyone having their own free-will to react has limitations. For one, it seems to only apply to people who actually survive the new timeline that you create as a result of using your powers. If Daniel from the old timeline either doesn’t survive, or was never born as a result of you altering the timeline, you’re taking away his free will to decide his own fate by taking the decision away from his hands. Another example I can think of (without superpowers) is if the government decides to run a secret operation, hidden from the general public, in a foreign country whose exposure results in a war with that country. Merely performing that operation without the vote of the public takes away the free-will of the public to decide to have their country run the risk of engaging in war because of a foreign operation. Sorry for the long reply 😀
Loved your blog post, I especially resonated with your idea of how the game helped to depict one’s moral compass. I feel the issue of the either filming or intervening has become a real issue in North American society because of the issue of police brutality. With the increase in social media outlet many are able to share their point of view by the click of a button; I feel that your choice of actually doing something when presented with an issue like that is a route that many do not seem to take. Many people would rather comment on pictures and make hashtags to share their opinion on an issue, but very few actually go out and seek justice.