Warning: Spoilers Ahead
Please only continue reading if you’ve completed episodes 1-2 of Life is Strange. Last chance to turn back!
The game Life is Strange touches on a lot of serious issues that should be thought about in real-world alternative scenarios. Although the game is dramatic and just fiction, it creates a world in which the player has to make serious choices that affect the lives of others around them. There are also some really deep issues that it confronts and shows the player in a unique way, and could be argued to perceive different messages. The following are my ownpersonal interpretations and in no way reflect the game developer or otherwise.
This isn’t a new issue by any means. Just like Monica Lewinsky says in her TED talk, “Public shaming as a blood sport has to stop”. Our main protagonist, Max, is bullied heavily but clearly has no visual problem dealing with it. I think it’s interesting that she spends the entirety of the game trying to save others, but has little personal reaction to the shaming and lies she’s involved in. I recently was reminded of this social media/online shaming stunt in two ways. The first was through the instance of a young girl committing suicide back in June. The story says that her suicide was due to the fact that her parents “did not want her using social media and cut her hair after she was caught sending a suggestive photo to a boy”, and from some notes she left behind after her suicide, she did it “because she was ashamed of her own actions on social media and worried the photo she’d sent to a boy would haunt her for the rest of her life”. There’s also the movie Unfriended which follows a group of friends after one of them commits suicide due to am embarrassing/shaming video posted to the internet of her. Through the movie you find out who is responsible for capturing this embarrassing occurrence and uploading it to the internet. It’s so easy to publicly shame someone via the internet now due to the ability to record and capture everyday things on smartphones.
Authority figures in the game turn their head at the mention of a predominantly wealthy student bringing a gun to school, and in no way suspect him due to his social status. First, Max has the choice to admit to the principal that she saw him with a gun in the restroom. If you decide not to tell him, later in Episode 2 you have the chance to blame him for Kate’s suicide attempt. If you do so, Max will bring up seeing Nathan with a gun that first day. Both situations are handled very poorly by authorities — the principal (who you are told is also an alcoholic) is probably acting this way due to a very large amount of funding coming from Nathan’s family.
Blaming the victim
During Episode 2 before the ending, Mr. Jefferson is seen in the hallway asking Kate if she brought the video upon herself or “did it for attention”. This is humiliating for her since she was
drugged of some sort and exploited publically. This can be seen in our modern society directly in the debate regarding rape and harassment victims. The way the characters are so quick to instantly blame Kate and ridicule her is standard for a much bigger issue…
Living through others’ drama for entertainment
Just as Mr. Jefferson mentions in their final class session of Episode 2, saying that we “can only blame ourselves” for our addiction to things such as “RealityTV” and trying to find entertainment through others’ misfortunes. This also builds upon how bullies can belittle others to feel better about themselves because of insecurities. I’m about to start Episode 3… and although my opinions may change on some of these issues, I look forward to what the upcoming episodes will bring me to think about. Total time played for Episode 1-2: 6.8 hours All screenshots taken from the game Life is Strange and are property of Square Enix/Dontnod.