I was having a pleasant little conversation with the boy in a moment of sanity as he explained how scared he was. He begged me to help, to get rid of the demon, to save his father, and I assured him that I had a plan that would keep everyone safe and rid him of the evil that so plagued him. He pleaded for me to leave before the demon repossessed him but, curious, I ventured towards the bedroom where his father was being held. The boy cried out for me to get away, and I was about to turn back when he suddenly screamed and mutated into a big, disgusting demon lady! I ripped off my headphones with horror, staring mortified at my confused sister before launching into battle against the repulsive demon in a fight I really didn’t want…
I started playing the old Dragon Age: Origins a little while back. It’s a single-player RPG that is extremely story-based, where there’s a conversation every five minutes with dialogue choices that can influence your course of action or your relationship with other characters. I love the choices and the very distinct outcomes they each have, and am very impressed with the story so far. But after the whole demon thing I described above happened… I’ve had a hard time going back to the game.
See, I came to a castle where the little boy, Connor, was possessed by a demon that kept killing people and I had to find a way to get it out of him. I had three choices: 1) kill Connor and the demon, 2) kill his mother and use blood magic to exorcise the demon, or 3) use the help of the mages to use good magic to exorcise the demon. I didn’t want anybody to die, so I agreed to go recruit the mages’ help. But before I left the castle, I wanted to go upstairs to talk to Connor. The conversation went well enough until I tried to go into his sick father’s bedroom.
The demon inside Connor completely freaked out. It burst out of him, this ugly, almost-naked thing, and attacked me before I even knew what was happening. I ripped off the headphones, terrified of what I was watching and hearing, and gave my sister a look of sheer horror. She had no idea what was going on but I couldn’t explain–I had to kill this disgusting demon, and when the deed was done, Connor was weak, in pain, and near death.
Heh heh… oops.
That was when his mother came running in, and man, did the voice actress (Louiza Patikas) just break my heart. The emotion, the complete despair and anguish ripping through her voice was phenomenal. As she proceeded to kill her own son to put him out of his misery, sobbing all the while, I had a moment of what did I just do…?
I felt horrible. I hadn’t meant to kill Connor, and I especially didn’t want his mother to be the one who had to finish it, but I made one silly little slip-up, just because I was curious, and ended up destroying this poor family. And then, to make matters worse, Alistair, one of the characters on my team, tore into me afterwards, telling me how awful I was and making me feel even more horrible. I was so stunned and overwhelmed by what had happened, I felt personally affected by it, even though it was just a game.
Now, I could’ve easily gone back to the last save and replayed the whole thing all over again, to make sure Connor stayed alive, but in the end I decided not to. As upset as my mistake made me, I found there was something very right about it. It was a reminder that there are mistakes in real life that have horrible consequences and can’t be undone. And isn’t the point of an adventure like Dragon Age to take you into the story, make you a part of it? What good would it do if you could just erase your mistakes when you can’t do that in real life? We can only try our hardest, maintain the best of intentions, and weather out the storm, hopefully avoiding grave mistakes along the way.
It’s just another way that adventures like that can mimic the experiences we have every day of our lives. As much as the game has hurt me, I admire it all the more, for having the guts to commit to something as influential as that, and for being a powerful example of how thin the line between good and evil really is.
Have you ever made a (hopefully mild) mistake you couldn’t undo?
May you never commit a mistake so grave, whether purposely or accidentally.