This story was inspired by a track from the I Robot album by The Alan Parson’s Project calledThe Voice. It got me thinking about hearing voices inside your head and if that happened to you or me would we listen to them? Imagine waking up one day and feeling fine, no paranoia or other psychological problems, and suddenly hearing a voice inside your head. Not the usually thought processes that we all go through but a different voice completely.
This voice is telling you to do things that you wouldn’t normally do. No doubt you would resist but what if this voice continually kept talking to you, stopped you from having a normal conversation with somebody or even sleeping. Now think that this Voice began to have a limited control over your body. For example if you disobeyed the Voice then you received either discomfort or even pain and conversely when you obeyed it you received some kind of adrenaline rush. As if things weren’t bad enough what happens if suddenly you begin to hear another voice either competing with the first one or maybe supporting the original voice. A bit like the good cop bad cop theme. So with that in mind here is the mod story.
Your eyes open and you hear a soothing voice. “Good morning, you’ve finally woken up! We thought you’d never come round after the operation. How are you feeling? My name is Nurse Xena and no I’m not a Warrior Princess, so don’t even ask.”
The nurse continues to talk but her voice has become distant and then the screen fades to black. After a few seconds you can see a light in one corner of the screen, like the light at the end of a tunnel. You can hear voices and they are saying things like “Time to wake up now”.
Game Play Notes:
The player has to walk towards the light but it keeps moving and the controls don’t respond they way they should making it hard to reach the light. About half way to the light the player hears another voice, very different from the others, that says something like “NO, don’t go towards the light, they’re trying to trick you.” Eventually the player reaches the light and the story continues.
Nurse Xena is there along with some other medical staff. You are in a hospital and clearly are recovering from some serious situation.
“I’m sure you have many questions but before you ask them let Doctor Quincy explain what has happened to you.”
“Good Morning, well let me start at the beginning! About six months ago you were on patrol with your team and…”
“I think you should start even before that Doctor Quincy!”
“Yes, you’re probably right Xena. Your name is Blake Carter and you are a member of a specialist military unit, whose exact nature is classified, meaning we don’t even know anything about it. About six months ago you were on a mission with your team when apparently you went crazy and killed all of your team. When the rescue team found you, you were on the floor in a fetal position and arguing with yourself. You were immediately hospitalised and throughout the last few months we have tried to treat what we believed was simply schizophrenia. All attempts failed using the normal methods, and then the Military Authorities gave us permission to perform a new surgical technique that you are recovering from today. Unfortunately the side effect seems to be a loss of memory. We are sorry to say that this may be permanent; we don’t have enough information to make a better diagnosis. Well, that’s enough for one day, try and get some rest and we’ll talk more tomorrow”.
Game Play Notes:
The player again goes through the light at the end of the tunnel episode but the controls are even harder this time. Also the voice is more forceful. “Don’t tell them anything about me or they will think you are mad and keep us locked up in here forever!”
Ah, there we are, awake at last. How are you feeling today, better than yesterday I hope? We feel you are ready to leave the hospital but would like you to perform a few perfunctory tests just to reassure those doubting Thomases amongst us.”
Game Play Notes:
The player has some sort of Yes/No options in front of them which they use to answer the questions. The test will consist of about six or so questions and the responses from the Doctors will be realistic and dependent on the answers. The player will have trouble using the Yes/No options because the Voice will be talking to the player and also influencing the player’s movements. The idea here is to give the player a chance to say that they are still hearing the voices inside their head. This will result in an indefinite cycle of waking up and getting to the light and them answering the questions again. No doubt some players will try to do this but there will be no escape. Upon satisfactory completion of the test the player is released.
Well done Mr Carter, you are free to go. We feel the treatment has been a complete success and thank you for your co-operation during what must have been a very difficult time for you.
The Voice: “Fucker! That guy has been digging in your brain should be squashed like the insect he is.”
The player is free to roam the hospital but is told to collect his personal items form the storeroom. Here he collects his uniform and other items including his knife and gun.
The Voice: “ALL RIGHT! Let’s Rock and Roll. Go kill those fuckers because they know too much about you already.”
It is at this point the game really begins. The player has a choice of whether to kill the doctors and nurses or just walk out to the waiting truck. If he kills them and gets caught then it’s a shooting battle he can’t win between him and the MP’s. But if he’s careful he could get away with it!
Game Play Notes:
The scene is now set for the way the game will go. The Voice will continually try to influence the player who either accepts the suggestions or resists them.
After travelling in the truck for a while you are taken to a secret base and welcomed back with less than opened arms. Your new teammates are very suspicious of you and your actions. You are briefed on your next mission and off you go. There are about six or seven short missions. The player is told to kill one member of the team on each mission and either agrees or resists. However the voice is becoming stronger and more powerful as each mission goes on. AT the completion of the six misiions the player is told by the Voice to kill himself
BEWARE SPOLIERS BELOW!
The player is a military experiment, the voice inside his head is simply a transceiver attached directly to the auditory nerves, meaning the voice sounds real but not connected to the outside world. There is also another device connect to other nerves, perhaps the heart, that can send signals to the nervous system.
A simple operation could give the military commanders incredible power over their soldiers or perhaps undercover spies etc.
Like most of my story ideas I’ve tried to tie the gameplay into the story. Here the player feels resistance in movement and firing accuracy when performing actions against the Voice. I want the player to not feel completely in control. For example when told to shoot a particular character you would receive health points for completing the action or lose them if you choose to not shoot him. Again when trying to shoot a character you have been told to leave alone by the voice your aim becomes erratic.
With this story idea I wanted to create choices for the player that seemly were black and white but had deeper meaning. I hope that somehow the story and choices could allude to the idea that we are not as free as we think we are. That our choices are incredibly limited and the choices we make are often made on the basis of the personal consequences rather than the facts or bigger picture.
With careful planning the detailed storyline would take the player through a journey where they begin to learn about the experiment and ultimately have the devices removed. Perhaps unfortunately, I can’t seem to get away from having a twist in my stories and this one would come in the form of another voice inside the player’s head after having the first one removed. This second voice would say something like:
“Perhaps it was better having the voice inside your head? Being able to absolve yourself of responsibility is so liberating.”
Isn’t that what many of us want, to be told what to do and not have to worry about the consequences. I remember reading a studying that suggested people would act very differently if they knew that any consequences resulting from their actions were not attributable to them. In effect they could get away with murder.
The first part of the game/story tries to introduce the Voice but also a feeling of helplessness. This is to contrast with the choices the player has later on in the game.
I’m sure many players will accept the Voice’s suggestions but hopefully most will resist, with the final instruction of suicide the player should begin to feel desperate and seek a solution. In one part of the secret base there is a section off limits and the player hasn’t had an opportunity to even try and enter this area. After the suicide suggestion the opportunity arises but the Voice is doing all it can to stop the player.
Obviously inside this area is the control room of the Voice and the player has to destroy the equipment. There could also be an automatic removal system, but that could be optional.
After destroying the equipment the player is on his own and will realise that he has to escape and live his life as best he can. He can’t go back to the hospital because they will probably not believe him and they could have been part of the setup. He certainly can’t stay in the base because the military will definitely kill him. His only choice is the back entrance to the base that leads to the forest. It is as he is walking way that he hears the second voice.
As mentioned earlier I’ve no doubt that some players will follow all the suggestions given by the voice including the last one, but hopefully there will be some that can look beyond the simple gameplay mechanics and see something deeper. I would love to be able to make it almost impossible to play the game again if the player has followed all the Voice’s instructions. If the player tries to start a new game it says something like:
“Sorry you are dead, you killed yourself! You must suffer the consequences of your actions”
All of the saved games would be deleted and reinstalling the game wouldn’t work either. Only using Windows Restore feature or reformatting the drive would get the game working again. I know it’s a bit cheeky but I want to emphasis the result of their choices.