Spoilers. Many. But not enough to spoil the experience, as you'll see.
You are a man named Stanley, in a first-person video game named, appropriately enough, The Stanley Parable
. Stanley has an apartment, a wife, and a job that completely satisfies him. He works in a large company and types single letters into a computer all day in response to instructions that appear on his screen. And Stanley is happy.
It's only a job....
Until one day, with no warning at all, the instructions stop coming. Stanley is not
happy. He sets off in search of an explanation for the change, only to find that every one of his co-workers has inexplicably vanished. So Stanley begins searching for them as well.
A friend helps him search, not a person, but a voice in his head. The voice is avuncular, perfectly modulated, and very British, and it frequently professes a desire to help Stanley understand and deal with the unusual situation he finds himself in. It suggests the path that Stanley should take, and modifies his environment to a limited degree, but it cannot control his actions. At critical junctures, it has no alternative but to trust Stanley to "do the right thing."
Use the Force, Luke!... er, Stanley....
You see, Stanley has free will, including the freedom to ignore the voice. If Stanley exercises his free will in ways that coincide with the advice the voice gives, it is highly gratified. It demonstrates to Stanley that, horror of horrors, he has been under the control of others
all his life, and if Stanley continues to trust the voice and accept its suggestions, it finally leads him out of his grim office building into the open air and sunlight, where he can live a life that is authentic
, based on his own freely made decisions. However, if Stanley makes decisions that go against the advice of the voice, it becomes upset, and then irritated, and then angry, and then despairing. Finally, more often than not, it abandons Stanley to die in some dark dead end, or dumps him into someone else's game, or loses its temper and goes Groundhog Day on him, leaving Stanley back in his office staring down an empty corridor, about to set out in search of his co-workers.....
I do hope you get it right this time....
Well, that was a pointless little rebellion, wasn't it, Stanley? Did you bugger-all good, didn't it? The voice cannot control you, but it can call you to account pretty damned quickly, can't it? Wouldn't it be better to just listen
to what you are told, and be free? But in that case, freedom turns out to consist of absolute submission to the demands of another. There's something wrong there, even though it's a familiar situation. "O God, who art the author of peace and lover of concord, in knowledge of whom standeth our eternal life, whose service is perfect freedom...." (Book of Common Prayer