What is the butterfly effect?
As quoted from Wikipedia “the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence in initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state”.
Essentially, every decision you make (or don’t make) can effect everything else that follows. How many times can you recall saying or thinking “if only I hadn’t left 5 minutes late, then XYZ wouldn’t have happened”, and so on?
How this is affecting games
As games evolve, so does the way we play them. With gameplay developing, studios are constantly looking for more ways to get us more involved with changing the course of the story, Detroit is no exception. It’s choice based system draws you into both the game and story like nothing else we’ve played before.
It’s not just games that use the chaos theory (Butterfly effect) too! For years there have been several series of books that immerse you into their world by giving you choices, and making you change to a page with an alternate scenario based on your choice. My favorite being Fighting Fantasy by Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson in which I found myself engrossed in epic adventures as much as any modern game these days would have me.
Now things are being taken to the next level with TV giant Netflix making choice based TV shows, the first of these being Black mirror’s Bandasnatch and more recently Bear Grylls new Netflix show You vs wild taking the next step into TV entertainment.
Detroit’s choice system
The game has 3 main characters (Androids) with their own story lines, personalities and ambitions. All three are very engaging and leave you wanting more, however with all three of them, one wrong move can change the course of the whole game, and even for the other playable and non playable characters. It’s important not to do anything without thinking ‘why?’. Why have I been given this choice? What could it effect? Even simple choices like what chores to carry out can have a massive effect on the entire story, thus enacting the butterfly effect.
But don’t worry, if you make a wrong choice, (or something bad happens), each time you play the game, as long as you don’t make exactly the same choices, the game will change, and you can essentially go down a parallel universe to the previous game.
Games have moved on so much from the days of ‘follow the path and tap a button’ to hit generic enemy! And with technology moving forward faster all the time, it’s likely we will see this concept grow and develop. So, is this the future of gaming? No, it’s the start of the future. It’s currently repetitive, make one wrong choice and you may have to start the game all over again; your favorite character dies then you need to either rinse and repeat, or play the rest of the game without them.
So what is the future of gaming?
Instead of preset choices that take you down a number of set ‘pre programmed’ paths where each choice is the same every time you play, imagine an AI that could determine your personality. It could create choices based on that, that could use your own personality as a way to make your choices much less black and white and test the very foundations of your own moral compass. This is where I foresee the future of gaming heading. Until then, Detroit: Become human is one hell of a start that will definitely keep you entertained!