The Stanley Parable

Written by Erin Lobner. Media by Courtney Murphy.


Dr. Joel Hoomans

Have you ever stopped and thought about how many decisions you make each day? If you choose to believe Dr. Joel Hoomans, the average adult makes around 35,000 decisions every single day. But different people make choices in different ways. Do you go with your gut, what you think is right, or do you listen to the voices around you?


These are the types of questions “The Stanley Parable” forces you to consider. The single-player,  interactive fiction video game was originally released in 2011 and has been revamped since then. You start the game as Stanley, a relatively dull office worker whose only job is to push buttons as information comes to him on a computer screen. But one day nothing appears on the screen. Stanley starts exploring the office, trying to figure out what’s going on, but all his co-workers have mysteriously vanished.



As you play the game, the narrator voices over everything you do. He will say, “Stanley entered the door on the left,” and you have the choice to do as he says or make a different choice. Your only other available controls are opening doors and pushing buttons, so the decisions are unavoidable. Oh, and if you stay in one place too long or disobey the narrator, he will heckle you. That has to be the funniest part of the game.



Now, for the even trickier part: all those choices actually affect the game. Even the first door you go through can determine which ending you’ll reach. There are more than six different endings in the updated version. It’s difficult to say much more about the endings without spoiling some great surprises.

Anyway, most of the time, you’ll hit a dead end long before you reach an ending. That’s exactly what YouTuber Markiplier learned when he tried out “The Stanley Parable.” One of the most confusing and entertaining dead ends occurred when the game morphed into “Minecraft.” The narrator was still present and chatting away, but Markiplier/Stanley was no longer in the office complex. Every time the player hits a dead end like this one, the narrator restarts the game and the layout changes. Just when you thought you found a way out, a door will go missing or lead to a completely different area.



One more note about the game: it’s worth playing just to listen to the narrator. He’s not only a hilariously sarcastic character, but he brings up some truly provoking points. So, while the frequent restarts and an overwhelming amount of choices might be intimidating, the game provides lots of food for thought. If you check out Markiplier’s video, you’ll understand.


“The Stanley Parable” is available to download for Windows, Mac, and Linux. If you want to escape the overwhelming pressure of daily choices in your life, try making fictional choices in a sarcastic and confusing game. But seriously, it will hold your interest–now go help Stanley escape!

The Stanley Parable


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