Intellectuals and artists rave endlessly about how rich ambiguity supposedly makes the human experience. And for awhile, I too thought this way, until an incident several years ago taught me the ridiculousness of these sympathies. Walking outside my apartment early one morning, something caught my attention out of the corner of my eye. I turned to see a young man, about my age, covered in a solid sheet of blood from the bottom of his nose straight down his shirt. It was a sight unique to New York, because a place like Australia would've banned him immediately. He turned my way and, seeing he had my singular attention, implored me to help him. He explained that some bad guys were after him and, were they to find him, they would surely kill him. He then asked if I could hide him in the entryway of my apartment building. I looked at his knuckles, scarred and caked with dried blood, and saw a kindred spirt - the Dom to my Marcus. I briefly considered the family that was living above me and their two young children, and thought about the role model I could be for them were I to help this man, my sidekick. So I let him in and went on my way.
I could have left him outside to his fate, but that would've been tantamount to Gordon Freeman leaving Alyx to be devoured by a headcrab. So I did the right thing: I saved my partner. In a world of ruin, populated by deadly robots and marauding bands of post-apocalyptic gutter trash, this was the right thing to do. Unfortunately, in the more mundane world of NutriSystem, Dancing with the Stars and Pottery Barn, it turns out police have uncovered strong evidence which suggests that my sidekick was responsible for the theft of my upstairs neighbors' television while I was out. This is the kind of ambiguity that, thankfully, kingdoms of death and destruction neatly avoid.
No doubt there are some egghead philosophers out there asking why we need a four-player co-op game set in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. Clearly, the same four-player co-op survivor game could take place in any of the numerous places currently dealing with genocide, child slavery and civil war. Who wants to play a history book though? Far better to fight the zombie who is without cause, the alien that lacks understanding and the orc that's simply stupid. As terror and chaos run rampant in your latest gaming adventure, just remember that everything is as it should be in these, the best of all possible videogame worlds.
Tom Endo is a section editor for The Escapist.