This is entry #50 in our 100 Philosophers, 100 Artworks, 100 Words Series.
Philosopher: Derek Bowman, Providence College
Artwork: Planescape: Torment, a role-playing video game by Black Isle Studios, 1999.
Words: “What can change the nature of a man?” – This is the central question of Planescape: Torment.
Like movies or novels, narrative driven video games encourage the player to identify with the perspective and experiences of the protagonist. But here the agency of the player and the protagonist are intertwined. In Torment the player and the Nameless One simultaneously act to uncover the secrets of that character’s past, and the desire to advance the game leads the player to enact the protagonist’s quest for redemption.
“What can change the nature of a man?” Perhaps the self-reflection occasioned by good narrative art.