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You're holding tough today, by the way
Until Dawn ain't getting me
*Game Theory Intro plays*
Hello Internet! Welcome to Game Theory
The show whose viewers wouldn't be surprised to see an episode dedicated to Sam's anti-gravity towel
Seriously! She's getting chased by a psychotic killer and it stays up like that??
And then she crawls through vents and it stays so clean?
This towel is clearly worthy of a theory
But not today
So if you've watched our GTLive live streams then you know that we recently completed a playthrough
of the horror game Until Dawn
*devastated MatPat* "No!!"
If you haven't watched our GTLive live streams then you probably STILL knew that we recently completed
a playthrough of the horror game Until Dawn
because YouTube hasn't put a toggle in allowing subscribers to opt-in to those notifications
Hey! Don't blame the messenger
Regardless, chances are if you watch gamers on YouTube
You've seen this choose-your-own-adventure, teen murder simulator hybrid
A game that mashes so many horror movie tropes you'd think they'd pulled Keenen Wayans out of retirement
And had him do Scary Movie: The Video Game
But here's the thing, while we were all making fun of the gameplay
"We are playing a game that encourages you to not move the controller"
The really good, but still not really good enough graphics
"Didn't quite make it out of the Uncanny Valley on that one" *laughs*
And hammy dialouge
We all missed something: The point
Along with a totem or two
Whether it was intentional or not,
Until Dawn is more than just a goofy horror movie cliche simulator
And the villain is far more menacing than a gangly spider-zombie
It's a much darker, much sadder, and much more serious game than any of us YouTube gamers thought
Carrying an incredibly serious message about mental illness and the nature of choice
Now before I go on, this is a heavy spoiler alert
We're covering everything from the game, so if you haven't watched any of the hundreds of Let's Plays
And still want to experience it for yourself, turn back now
But if you want to completely change the way you look at the game
Well, spend another few minutes with me
We all clear?
Now this game is a blast, not only to play but to discuss
You see, the game not so subtly points out that it's built around the Butterfly Effect
Where decisions you make earlier in the game have significant ramifications down the line
It's a game about choice
And what makes this game endlessly discussable and watchable
Is seeing how different choices lead to different gruesome murders for our -
*record scratch* Jeez they're 18 and 19 years old?
Oh man, now I feel really creepy about trying to get Jess into her underwear
No! No it is NOT when some of these kids are literally under the age of consent
Creepy revelations about everyone's true ages aside
Make the right choices, nail each QTE and miraculously
you may be able to keep everyone alive...Until Dawn
Roll credits *CinemaSins ding*
Well, not everyone
Meet Josh, older brother of both Beth and Hannah
We see in the game's prologue that one year prior to the events in the game
Beth and Hannah were killed accidentally after a prank went wrong
Yes, you can roll the clip one last time
Fast-forward to the present day where, halfway through the game, you learn that Josh is The Psycho
A masked madman setting up elaborately sadistic, Saw-like traps
For his quote-unquote "friends" to make them pay for the deaths of both his sisters
Well, that and to get them all a few thousand clicks on a certain video sharing platform
Gah! Everyone is a vlogger these days
Now, outside of the supernatural and cannibalistic wendigos,
Josh is the villain of the game, putting his friends through torture
As such, it's only fitting that he is the only playable character who will never survive the night
regardless of your choices
He only has one of two fates
Either getting his head crushed by a wendigo
Or, if you find enough clues, turning into a wendigo himself
A fitting end to a crazed maniac
Except, hold on. Josh's story isn't so cut and dry
True, the torture of his friends is extreme
And he isn't adverse to going so far as to punch Ashley out cold
But none of his actions directly lead to anyone's death
His traps are only there to scare, not kill
Fake bodies, fake bullets, saws that don't go all the way down
Now compare that to Mike, AKA the village bicycle where anyone gets a ride *horn honking*
Who can kill Emily in cold blood, and the world rejoices *party blower noise*
Or how about Ashley? Who in some scenarios can choose to kill Chris while he pleads for his life
Simply by keeping the lodge door locked
Then, in the final scene, Sam can actively choose to blow up the lodge early, killing everyone else in there
And then Matt who can basically leave his girlfriend, Emily, for dead when a tower falls
I mean seriously, the game gives you a lot - A LOT - of opportunities to kill off Emily
In short, pretty much every playable character in this game
Can take an action that will directly lead to someone else's death
Except for Jessica
And except for Josh
But unlike all the other characters, Josh doesn't get a happy ending
And sure, I get it. He tortured his friends and, yeah, thats really bad
But don't let Beth's yoga pants distract you from the truth
What these teenagers did to Hannah was also really bad
These aren't good people
They set up a prank where Mike, Hannah's crush, leads her on to the point that she starts undressing,
expecting a little totem action, if you get what I'm saying
All while they film in secret and laugh at her embarrassment
It's ruthless!
And unlike the quote-unquote "heros" of the story, who did this out of sheer meanness
Josh's saw traps aren't just born out of revenge
He has another excuse, mental illness
Throughout the game we gradually learn that Josh has had behavioral issues since the age of eleven
Since then, he's been treated with various medications for depression
In total, for nine years
And we learn that the mysterious analyst appearing between chapters in the game
Was actually Josh's psychiatrist helping him to cope with the loss of both his sisters
When we finally get to step inside Josh's eyes at the end of the game, Chapter 10,
It's clear he's being haunted by the vision of his sisters
"No no no no, you're not real" -"Why didn't you save us Josh?"
Through his hallucinations, we see that he blames himself in large part for their deaths
Despite being passed out that night, physically unable to do anything to help them
Now, does all of this excuse his eagerness to strap two people to chairs
Force one to choose between his life and the life of his crush
All while spinning saw blades descend from the ceiling?
No, but it certainly sheds light on Josh's motives
Showing that he's not a sadistic killer or cruel sociopath
He's a confused and grieving kid
Remember, these kids are like 18 to 20
*record scratch* Still - still kinda creeped out about the Jess thing
And the game actually acknowledges this
*another record scratch* Not the creepy jess thing, just the fact that Josh is in need of help
In alternate dialogue for Josh's big reveal as the psycho
Sam makes it clear that his behavior is more of a cry for help than it was anything malicious
"Come on, it was just for fun! Nobody got hurt!
"You're crying out for help, Josh"
In short, Josh is a sympathetic character who needs help, medical help
Help that, quite frankly, he's not getting
And this is where we go from Josh being in a weird gray area
A character who did some awful things, but had some excuses for it, to someone who is outright innocent
Throughout the game, we can piece together Josh's illness by the symptoms he demonstrates
Chapter 10 shows us that he clearly has very vivid visual hallucinations
He also has auditory hallucinations, hearing both his sisters' voices in his head as well as the Psycho's
It's important to note here, though, that the mask-wearing Psycho isn't a separate personality
Which would change his diagnosis
How do we know?
Well, if Sam escapes being chased by Josh, she can find a tape where he's practicing his "Psycho Talk"
"Hello - Hello, children...That's not right..."
I mean every good masked killer needs a catchphrase, right?
The Psycho is just a character he puts on for the purposes of this theatrical event he had planned
Not a split personality
So we have visual hallucinations, auditory hallucinations, but Josh is also delusional
The delusion that this is all a fun prank or game
That this would actually be socially acceptable to his friends
He also has delusions of grandeur
Seriously, in his opening video:
"Hello, friends and fans"
"Hello, friends and fans"? Who's he talking to anyway?
Seriously, his channel has like, what, seven subscribers
And after the events of the game, he's going to lose all of them
"YouTuber tortured me and gave me PTSD... unsub"
I'd say that that's a fairly solid reason to unsubscribe from a channel
He's also operating under the delusion that his friends don't care about him
Feeling so persecuted that he physically saws himself in half simply to prove how little they care
When that actually couldn't be further from the truth
Finally, we see his speech deteriorate into incoherent rambling
Based on these symptoms, Josh appears to have schizophrenia
A brain disorder in which a person has trouble distinguishing reality from fantasy
And has trouble managing normal emotions
Symptoms include: everything we just mentioned
Visual and auditory hallucinations, delusions, social withdrawal, disorganized speech
And the condition tends to appear between the ages of 16 and 30
See that age joke at the beginning wasn't just a non sequitur, it actually had a purpose
All in all, it sounds pretty cut and dry, right?
But then we look at his medical records
The slate of doctors listed for treating him over the last 9 years, Dr. Hill included, are all MDs
Meaning that they're psychiatrists, people who went to medical school, had a year of medical internships,
And have 3 years of residency to assess and treat mental health conditions
Training which now enables them to prescribe medicine to their patients
So Josh seems like he's seeing the right people for his issues, except apparently he's not
Looking down the list of medicines and treatments he's been given, they're all for extreme depression
You see, nerve cells in the brain communicate using chemicals called neurotransmitters
I've mentioned them before in my video on the addictive qualities of mobile gaming
And, as you can imagine, there are a bunch
But the most famous are dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine
Well, depression and schizophrenia are currently thought to be tied to different neurotransmitters
With schizophrenia being linked to the overactivity of dopamine, while depression is thought to be tied
To a decrease in the production of serotonin
The drugs we see Josh being prescribed, though, are all focused around serotonin
Fluoxetine is an SSRI, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor
Which - to grossly simplify - is meant to increase the amount of serotonin in the brain
Duloxetine is a selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor
Which again leave dopamine, Josh's actual issue, untreated
And both Amitriptyline and Phenelzine are some of the earliest antidepressants developed
Effective, yes, but now replaced with newer, less side-effect heavy drugs
And neither of them primarily focused on what Josh's true problem is
Regulating the amount of dopamine in his brain
Knowing this, the results of Josh's medical reports are unsurprising
Each time, the medicine didn't fix his problem
And occasionally he would resort to taking more in an attempt to see any sort of result - any sort of relief
And here's why! He was being treated for the wrong disorder
His primary issue is schizophrenia, not depression
Of course the medicines would have limited effectiveness
They weren't doing anything to treat the primary symptoms
of hallucination, delusion, paranoia, and disorganized speech
What does this mean?
It means that Josh wasn't getting the help that he needed to mitigate his condition
And leads us to the true meaning of Until Dawn
In a game that prides itself on choice for its characters, Josh had no choice
Schizophrenia is tied very closely to genetics, so he had no choice to get the disorder in the first place
Josh had no choice when placed in the hands of experts, who misjudged and mistreated his condition
He was passed out and had no choice when the rest of the group pulled a prank that would ultimately
kill his two younger sisters
And even in death, he has no choice
You, as the player, cannot save him
No matter what you do, there is no happy ending for Josh
He was doomed from the start
In a game all about choice, probably the biggest one that you can have is forgiving Josh
Looking beyond his actions, the awful things that he did, and choosing to save his life
Recognizing him for the young man in need of help that he is
But you can't do that.
When you look at it this way, Until Dawn is a big metaphor, where the true monster
Is psychological disorder
It strikes randomly, has no mercy, and gives you no chance of escape, no chance to run and hide
And the true villain of the game is Dr. Hill and the system that didn't know enough, or simply didn't care enough
To give Josh the help that he so desperately needed
Now that is truly a horror game
But, hey, that's just a theory
A Game Theory
Thanks for watching :)
Today we covered a game full of sexy characters and important choices
So in honor of that, today's poll has one important question for you
Hot or Not? The wendigo
Bangable undead or a face only a mother could love
Click on one to choose or click the links in the description to cast your vote
And find out next week whether you guys would swipe right or swipe left
♪ Bow chicka bow wow ♪
And hey! If you want to check out some hilarious highlights of our playthrough of Until Dawn
Click here to check out the GTLive channel for moments like this:
*Josh screaming* While MatPat and Steph repeatedly say stop
"Oh no it's actually killing him!"
"Oh it's - oh no!"
"Oh no!"
"I actually killed hi- oh god!"
Spoopiness to the max!
And that's about it for today, so if you'll excuse me I've got some strategizing to do
In real time
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Game Theory: Until Dawn's TRAGIC Hero

605 Folder Collection
Po-ching Tsai published on November 30, 2016
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