In 2013 the interactive fiction office-based game The Stanley Parable launched to incredible success. Playing as the employee of an anonymous company in a dystopian, empty office building, players follow the instructions of a narrator who helps them find out where everyone in the office has gone.
What makes this office-based game different, though, is that you don’t have to submit to the narrator’s commands, and if you’re rebellious enough, you can change the entire direction of the game.
Aside from being a fun experience, having your co-workers try out their skills in problem solving, compliance and creativity and see where their game ends up (out of 19 possibilities) could prove an interesting insight into their personality and attitudes to work.
[Warning: spoiler alert – possible endings revealed below]
The freedom ending: You’re obedient
If you obey everything the game’s narrator tells you to do, you are rewarded at the end with the ability to step out of the office into a lush landscape of freedom. If there was an objective, you’ve completed it. But becoming free through total obedience taints this happy ending, and in Stanley’s office setting, still suggests he’s being controlled.
If you or a co-worker gets this ending, don’t fret. Obedience is a natural trait, but it’s important not to enforce an office environment that is too controlled to offer room for growth, creativity, development or innovation.
The nuclear destruction ending: You’re a rebel
If you choose to disobey the Narrator at most or every turn, you’ll likely end up activating the nuclear self-destruct button, being crushed to death by metal jaws, or suffering another similarly grim punishment.
As previously discovered, complete obedience may provide freedom in the game, but doesn’t really provide the most liberating ending. It’s just a game, so indulging that little voice in your head that told you to do it is harmless for the thrill of it, but in the real-life office some rules are there for a reason.
If a co-worker gets this ending it can be a good thing: breaking the rules can drive innovation and create a less constricting work environment, but might also be a warning sign of a co-worker who may ignore the rules and boundaries of their peers. Most of us have a little rebellion in us, but going out of your way to do the opposite doesn’t make you particularly easy to work with. Just look at Steve Jobs.
The ‘serious room’ ending: You’re a cheater
Inquisitive players can run a quick Google search to discover ways of cheating the game, such as entering codes. Naturally, the game developers are expecting players to try and beat the game whichever way they can, so cheating will likely send you to the ‘serious room’, in which you are sentenced to stay for one hundred billion, trillion years. They’re on to you.
Mia Consalvo at Forbes claims there are four reasons that people cheat in video games: ‘They’re stuck, they want to play god, they’re bored with the game, or they want to be a jerk’. Everyone is guilty of cheating at some point, but if this kind of corner-cutting behaviour becomes apparent in the office, it might reveal underlying issues: This might be a co-worker’s way of showing that they’re struggling with a task, or are finding it hard to enjoy their work.
As can be expected from a game with no rules, there are also no right answers. With nineteen endings to choose from, no two people will have the same experience with the office-based game, which is the same in working life. With each individual there are different motivations, approaches and outcomes for the way we navigate our careers, which should be celebrated. It takes all sorts of Stanleys to make a team, which is the key to a great workforce.
Hat Tip: All images provided by The Stanley Parable Wiki. We’re not affiliated with game or it’s creators.