I had this interesting thought earlier.

Let’s say you’re playing a roleplaying game. Why do you fight? Let’s expand the question a bit: if you can escape from a battle, why would you stay and fight? One answer might be, “to gain experience and level up.” But why would you do that if you can run away? If you can continue the game without fighting, why would you fight?

Let’s qualify the concept a little bit more. Let’s say, you can escape from combat, but you can’t always escape from combat. Sometimes you’ll be cornered, and sometimes you’ll have to fight or face the consequences of failure. In the most obvious case, the consequence for failure will be a “game over” screen. Nobody likes those.

So what? Your choice then is to “fight to keep playing.” That sounds suspiciously like a “press X to not die” situation, and those kinds of games are, … well, let’s not saying boring because that’s unfairly judgmental. There are some great games out there where a story is told and an experience had without much past “continuing.”


Humanity brought this on itself.

But still, the question remains: why do we fight?

Earlier this afternoon, I reread the trope Godzilla Threshold, which describes a situation wherein the circumstances have escalated to the point that almost any means can be justified in resolving it – up to and including self-annihilation.

I figure there are probably many thresholds at levels below Godzilla. There’s probably a violence threshold, and a shouting threshold, and a lying threshold. Those might well be closer together for some characters than others, and the various triggers and circumstances may be different, but they still require an impetus. Why do we fight?

Press X to Not Die

Is it a moment of interactivity, and is it something more? What are the implications, and what are the consequences? I can do this. To get stronger. Why is that important? So something doesn’t stop me later. Why should anything stop you farther along in the story? Unforeseen future consequences for my current actions.

There’s an argument to be made that by fighting now, a protagonist ensures that they will fight again later. What more is there to be found beyond this first step? You made the fist, and that fist connected. You’ve simultaneously empowered yourself and made yourself a target. Everyone will come after you now. Everyone who can make a fist.

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