Can mechanics help you understand life?

Right now, for ReAct: Bullet Decision, we’ve been testing
our engine and explaining it to our partners. In ReAct there is one section
that is a bit complicated. The player can eat or not eat. Eating accumulates
dishes, and the player can chose to wash them right away or not. This might
sound simple but over the 7 times the player is given the option to do these things,
it creates about 100 different ways you can enter the sink. There is 100
different ways that lead to about 7 conclusions at any given moment. So in
turn, there is 6 other possibilities happening alongside what you do.

What does this mean? Well, on a larger scale, and in the
bigger moments of the game. it means that actions happen alongside each other.
Even in a situation that’s “the same”, it can have a different meaning because
of the context beforehand. This isn’t a new concept but interesting to think
about the effect it can have. Is understanding that your choices create new
pathways helpful? Can it lead you to better understand the choices in your real
life, knowing that each actions creates a separate pathway to an indistinguishable
amount of outcomes?

Will using mechanics to mimic life help someone to
understand, and comfort them? If we can show the player what’s going on under
the hood, will it help achieve something by showing them where things can
break, turn bad, or lead? Games teaching people life skills isn’t a new
concept, thinking of hide n seek, tag, etc. so why not? I don’t think it’s an impossibility.
I think with “mechanics” kind of being “secret” from the consumer, it creates a
lack of understanding that can resonate with someone. I think just knowing how
something works, can affect someone and they can apply it to their life.

Think of Life is Strange (LIS) mechanics. Did being able to
rewind time change anything for you? Did knowing that the wrong answer could
result in violence or death change anything to you? I think it gave some
insight on how their choice mechanic worked, and helped the gameplay be
informed. It made a difference in how important I felt my choices are and that
I am in charge of leading to a good life or one of destruction. And that
principle can be applied to life.

What do you think? Could enticing players into really
knowing how visual novel and interactive fiction mechanics work change views?
Could it help people understand the cause and effect of their everyday lives?
Let me know what you think.

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