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TV Tropes Monday: But Thou Must



Tweet of the Day: The Summer of Sausage


Why does the hero do what he does?

Because he is the hero.

And since he is the hero he must do what must be done.

Therefore when a hero is required, the people turn to you and say, “But Thou Must!”

This is where a game pretends that the player character (and by extension the player) have a choice in following the game narrative, but when the player exercises this option, or at least tries to, the game simply refuses them. It may ignore the choice, punish the player for choosing wrong, or simply ignore it. The problem with this trope is that a) it minimizes the player’s agency (the ability to act in the game), b) it can sometimes smack of developer cruelty. The developer created the scenario with only one answer but still wants to fool the player into believing that there is a choice. It can sometimes work, if coached properly and in certain games such as horror or comedy games, where the player is very much aware that their player character is nothing more than a puppet of the universe they inhabit. Anywhere else and it feels out of place to the point of being actually infuriating.

The situation becomes even more glaring in games that emphasize player’s choice and/or constructed under the sandbox model, one that prioritizes the freedom of the player to act within the game. Using this trope on the player can lead to a break in immersion and in some cases have the player quit altogether.

As always, use this trope with care.


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