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Dark and Darker - its gambling-like take on effort

Started by droqen, February 14, 2023, 01:51:18 PM

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I'm not particularly happy to be writing this but I've got to get it out...

My time with Dark and Darker was short-lived. It was compelling and fascinating - an exciting blend of risk and trepidation and beautiful luck. And -

One misstep and you could lose everything. Do it all just right and you might be able to strike it rich.

- I find it incredibly stressful too, in a quietly, deeply negative way. More than that, I think it makes a statement, in the way that only a game can, through its very play-feeling, on a particular way of engaging with the world around us. I want to write this because I think it is true for a very broad spectrum of games, and I (1.) dislike it, and (2.) want to know where it comes from, what need it satisfies, or in short, which forces inevitably give birth to games like this.

There is a line from Thinking in Systems that I can no longer find. Paraphrased, it said something like, "If you close down or destroy a factory but do not change any of the conditions that cause the factory to arise in the first place, another factory will open in its place."

I don't even want to close down or destroy Dark and Darker - but I do want to understand the human system that gave birth to it, that keeps giving birth to games like it. Is it pure compulsion, as I have experienced a little of, or is it something else? Is this system the root of videogames?

And... why... does it mirror a certain strongly held attitude which I frequently encounter... the attitude that the world is an unpredictable game, that at every step you fight and claw to gain a little more, and sometimes you succeed but mostly you fail...

Dark and Darker encourages hoarding. Spending your hard-won resources is punishing and unrewarding unless you do it just right. Sometimes the real world can feel this way.

The culture of Dark and Darker is one of hopeless murder. I did not encounter a single individual who did not kill me as soon as they had the opportunity to do so. Literally, I tried to connect every time I saw someone -- okay, sometimes I ran away -- and they all ended in a knife fight (which I usually lost). It was depressing, a miserable little corner of a completely anti-social subculture.

The larger question doesn't have anything to do with Dark and Darker at all, or games at all. What gives birth to this attitude? What satisfies it, and why does it need to be satisfied?