Self-awareness with Lie To The Devil
Self-awareness through inner turmoil. Do you know what you value? This is Lie To The Devil.
Lie To The Devil is a game that asks players to humor the whims of a potentially malicious computer AI. Imagine playing Escape The Room, but the room is your own sense of self, deeply interrogated for maybe the very first time. In a notable moment of the game you may find yourself voluntarily entering a simulated game of Russian roulette, gambling with a player who shares none of the risk but all of the reward.
Jonathan Zungre, game designer:
I wanted to make something that felt dangerous, because it seemed that most games, as masculine or "tough" as they try to be, don't actually expect anything from their players. I also wanted to see how people responded to being told what to do, even by a source that means them harm. The computer or "Devil" in the game really only wants to hurt the player, but interestingly, most players still follow exactly what it tells them to do.
Lastly, I wanted to see how people valued something they had created. In Lie to the Devil, you create an in-game pet, which you design and name. Then, almost immediately, that pet is put into danger. And the question is, do you value it? What will you do to save it from harm?
I don't know if Lie to the Devil adds beauty to the world. It makes some people laugh. It makes some people somber. Some cry. I think that when you make something dark and confrontational, it's hard to see if it's beautiful. But, I know it's something that means a lot to me, and it's meant a lot to some of the players.
His perspective from:
Metal Gear Solid: This was the main influence, especially the moment when you encounter Psycho Mantis. For those who haven't played this game, Psycho Mantis was a character who could read minds, and the game used him to constantly break the fourth wall with the player in some scary and surprising ways. Famously, in order to defeat him, the player needed to unplug the controller from the game console and plug it into the 2nd player port.
This may not sound like a revelation, but it was the first time I had done something in my real-world physical space to influence something in digital, fictional space. In short, Metal Gear Solid was not content to stay in its world and wanted to invade mine, and that scared me and thrilled me.
Macbeth: I went to see a performance of Macbeth at Lincoln Center with my wife, which starred Ethan Hawk as Macbeth. I was enthralled. I loved that Macbeth makes a deal with the devil and he keeps getting deeper and deeper into it and he can't get out. It made me research the rich history of fiction involving "deals with the devil," including Faust.
The Mechanical Turk: I love that the Mechanical Turk existed. It was this clock-work automaton that was made in the 1700s that would play you in a game of chess and win...every time. It looked like a human torso bolted onto a large block table with a chess board. It toured around under multiple owners for over 100 years and the likes of Napoleon, Benjamin Franklin and Edgar Allen Poe came to play it and marvel at it. But it wasn't until 50 years ago that people unraveled all its secrets, most importantly, that it was an elaborate hoax.
But the Mechanical Turk's legacy inspired the first real chess playing machines, which are considered the first computer games. That's what video games are: An elaborate, compelling machine that makes you believe in things that aren't real, but eventually could be.