INSIDE: CONTROL AS RESPONSIBLITY

Inside is a fitting title for a game with such a focus on the diegetic world. The game does not employ a narrator, nor does it furnish the player with instructions. As I averred in my first game log, Inside eschews anything extra-diegetic (excluding, the menu and sparse audio) that could divert the player’s attention from the gamic world. To use one of Alexander Galloway’s terms, Inside flourishes because of how much weight it places on “diegetic operator acts.” This notion of a player’s control plays into a theme of the game: the loss of individual agency in a state led by a militant, malevolent force (the black, white, and red color scheme are, to me, an allusion to the Nazis and to Schindler’s List).

A ravenous canine chomps away at the protagonist’s neck. Shifting to a diegetic machine act, the player, without the ability to skip, must watch the gruesome scene.

Encountered in select places, a brain-control device hangs. The player can attach the boy’s head to the device, endowing him with the ability to control nearby husks (humans that cannot do anything without someone attached to the aforementioned device). When the player, for example, presses the right arrow key, the boy, legs dangling and head connected to the apparatus, moves his legs as if he were walking right; the husk actually walks to the right. Here, there are levels to this control: the player-operator inputs the command for the boy to move right, and by doing so, sets off a command chain that results in the husk’s movement. This moment bespeaks the relationship between the protagonist and the gamer: we are controlling the boy, a husk that needs a player to animate him.

The mind control apparatus that the player must use to progress through the game.

Yet, while the power dynamic appears in favor of the player, one should not forget that the husks allow for the boy to progress: they are necessary for his salvation. Now, as players, our lives are obviously not dependent on this child. Nevertheless, we cannot gain access into the game without the child; our experience hinges on his survival. To me, this reads as quite selfish and returns me to the game’s theme of control. I ended my first game log on the thought that the player feels responsible for every time the protagonist dies. While I have not finished the game, I find it interesting that the boy’s survival depends on how well we can control him. Perhaps, this is a metaphor for the great influence we have on others’ lives.

Copy the husks or be killed. The player, while still in control, must act according to the others.

Source: INSIDE: CONTROL AS RESPONSIBLITY